Hawaii’s in trouble: pandemic leaves behind huge revenue shortfalls, state’s finances a mess

Recovery not seen for at least two years

Hawaii's government seems estranged from its people: poor fiscal management of public revenue-bearing assets has shorted the state $millions over the past ten years . . . and now, in the aftermath of the pandemic, it’s all coming home to roost

“We’re in bad shape . . . “

Frankly worded messages recently sent by legislators to their constituents are saying things like:  “WE’RE IN BAD SHAPE . . . At its meeting yesterday, the state’s Council on Revenues projected a 7% decline in revenues for this fiscal year, and a 12% decline in FY2021. It does predict that FY2022 will show a 12% increase. So we’ll have to weather a terrible storm for two years,” from Senator Moriwaki’s message, sent yesterday, May 29, 2020.

The irony inherent to this announcement is that the state has been losing $millions of taxpayer dollars on mismanaged public harbor properties, for years, and it was Moriwaki and others who had  been helping to bless this fiscal mismanagement, through the state’s DLNR, headed by Suzanne Case.

And that’s just public harbor properties.  At this stage, a full audit by an outside independent auditor should have a close look at all of Hawaii’s fiscal ledgers to ascertain the true extent of financial losses over the past decade as a result of state bungling, and these should be reported to the public. 

The “terrible storm [that is about to descend on the people of Hawaii]” that Moriwaki refers to in her message will affect the lower and middle income segment of our population the most.  “. . . teacher furloughs, statewide pay cuts, or slashing critical social services . . .” could be the consequences if state leadership miscarriages yet again.  The wealthy -- wealthy outsiders especially -- won’t feel a thing.  Let’s be honest, Hawaii’s government has never been “of, by, and for the people of Hawaii.”  It’s been a government whose players have been consistently steered  by wealthy private financial self interest, at the expense of the wider community.   It has always been hoped, in this scheme of things, that the rest of the wider population would be satisfied with the leftover crumbs.  As a result, quality of life for our grass roots residents here has steadily declined.


State agencies couldn’t even abide by the governor’s emergency proclamation, much less manage the public’s money properly

During the height of the pandemic, state agencies were in flagrant violation of the governor’s emergency orders.  The Division of Boating and Ocean Recreation, in particular, snubbed the governor’s orders, refused to participate  in enforcement (further burdening local police departments to enforce on state properties), encouraged violations of social distancing and lockdown orders, and outright ignored the governor’s  changes to Hawaii Administrative Rules that were meant to keep the population safe.  When the state was confronted with these disturbing allegations, silence was the response.  No wealthy outsiders complaining = no complaints.

CAUTION:  Watch carefully as Hawaii legislators, the governor, and agency leaders use the new revenue shortfalls as an excuse to turn over our public lands and assets to wealthy private financial self interests waiting in the wings.

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