Retirees can cut back by only so much
Gov. Neil Abercrombie’s budget increases spending, including the portion it pays for state employee health benefits. One of the ways he plans to pay for this is to tax pensions.
I am a retired person on a fixed pension. The governor wants to take some of my pension money that I use to pay my own health insurance and give it to state workers so they will have to pay less. That is robbing the retired to pay the working.
I will never get a raise. Increased taxes and fees have eroded the value of my pension, leaving ever less for buying food and gas, which have also increased. I try every way imaginable to reduce my spending and to be more efficient. I even put in a solar water heater to save on electricity.
Instead of raising taxes, the governor should find ways to make this state operate more efficiently. Until then, there should be no tax increases.
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Make those who can afford it bear more
It takes courage to tell the truth about our state’s fiscal peril. Gov. Neil Abercrombie insists that each of us must bear a fair share of the burden required to face up to that peril — a courageous stand.
One suggestion: After cutting significant sources of waste and inefficiencies in state government, Abercrombie should consider a higher and more steeply graduated personal income tax instead of cuts in education, health care and assistance to those most in need among us. More of the burden can be shifted to those better able to bear it.
Cheap housing needed for homeless
Hawaii does not need any more homeless shelters or transitional housing. Permanent sustainable housing is the only answer to remove people from the category of "homeless."
This can be done with truly affordable rentals — at a cost that considers those of us homeless on disability who have an income of only $674 per month.
Keep in mind, we need to pay rent, utilities and other bills and purchase household items. Many of us out here are disabled and are on waiting lists for nearly non-existent housing that takes up to 10 years to move into. Disability is not a choice, and homelessness is an unfortunate side effect for too many of us.
Food regulators have links to Monsanto
It is so tiring listening to how the Food and Drug Administration, the Environmental Protection Agency and the U.S. Department of Agriculture all say that genetically modified organisms are safe.
How come no one ever talks about the revolving door between these agencies and Monsanto?
Michael Taylor, our FDA deputy commissioner for foods, is a former Monsanto vice president; Tom Vilsack, our USDA secretary, has ties to Monsanto; Elena Kagen, recently appointed to the Supreme Court, took Monsanto’s side against organic farmers.
And the list goes on and on.
Find all the burials on church’s grounds
I have been a Hawaiian activist for much of my 85 years. I grew up attending Kawaiahao Church and also singing in the choir for a number of years.
When I was in high school in the 1940s, I was always down at Kawaiahao watching the gravediggers removing the burials and transferring them to the church up in Makiki. This was for the building of Likeke Hall. But we always knew that there were still graves there; we didn’t know how many.
I was amazed to learn that there were far more burials there than we knew. My No. 1 concern is that they are able to locate every burial in that area, hopefully using state-of-the-art technology.
My second concern is the cutting of funding for the Office of Hawaiian Affairs. This funding is desperately needed for the new building, for all the church-related activities for the next generations.
In times like this, private funding will be difficult. It must come from Hawaiians for Hawaiian children.
Patients need safe access to marijuana
The Honolulu Police Department and prosecutor’s office are unwilling to sit down and understand the benefits of allowing medical marijuana compassion centers (dispensaries) in Hawaii.
These centers would create a safe access system for patients in Hawaii to obtain their medicine.
They would no longer have to obtain their medicine from the black market, and HPD could focus on more hard-core drug issues, such as ice, cocaine and heroin.
President, Pacific Wellness Coalition
Schools should emphasize health more
The American Heart Association is very concerned about results of the recently released Hawaii Department of Education Safety and Wellness Survey ("Schools do not comply with health guidelines," Star-Advertiser, Feb. 21).
Obesity, and the lack of physical exercise, have been shown to be detrimental to children’s ability to learn. As schools struggle to meet federal standardized test score mandates, it would make sense to optimize children’s ability to learn. Instead, many Hawaii schools have moved away from providing quality physical education and have continued to allow access to unhealthy food and snack options on campus.
The survey results should serve as both a wake-up call and a call to arms for parents who are concerned about the health and quality of education of their children. Parent participation is necessary to hold Hawaii policymakers accountable for changes that are needed to ensure that our keiki are provided an environment that optimizes learning and long-term health.
Member, board of directors, American Heart Association, Metro Oahu