Thursday, December 3, 2020
Hawai'i Free Press

Current Articles | Archives

Sunday, November 15, 2020
Where’s All the Money?
By Tom Yamachika @ 5:00 AM :: 863 Views :: Hawaii State Government

Where’s All the Money?

by Tom Yamachika, President, Tax Foundation Hawaii

For most of us, if we are asked how much money we have (perhaps by a bank or credit union that is considering lending us money), answering the question isn’t terribly difficult. Look up a bank account or two, add a brokerage account if we are fortunate enough to have one, and we go from there. 

For our State government, apparently it’s not so easy. Not only do the state accountants need to deal with general funds and the money there, but we have hundreds of special funds—little pockets of money held for different purposes. Sometimes there’s an associated bank account, sometimes not. Sometimes there is a law establishing the special fund, sometimes not (agencies can and do establish funds administratively). 

In an attempt to keep track of the money, the Legislature passed a law requiring agencies to report on the special funds they have, and then they sent the State Auditor to check up on the agencies to make sure they did that. According to the Auditor’s reports, some of which we have covered in this space, sometimes agencies comply with the law, sometimes not. And there are no real penalties for disobeying the law—the Auditor can’t put a delinquent director in the imu at the next luau with a pig roast, for example. 

Does it matter?  Well, consider Auditor’s Report No. 20-08, which concluded: “More than $483 million in excess moneys may be available to be transferred from 57 special and revolving fund accounts to the General Fund without adversely affecting programs.”  That report followed another report, No. 20-06, which “identified $2.28 billion within 257 accounts associated with departments’ special and revolving funds that either had no financial activity during the past five fiscal years (FY2015 through FY2019) or had fiscal year ending balances that were significantly more than necessary to support the associated programs, based on the funds’ average outflows over the past three fiscal years.”  

There are idle funds holding money. Lots of money. And this is only for the funds that the Auditor knows about.

If our government wants to take extreme measures such as cut back on core services and ask Joe and Jane Taxpayer to dig ever deeper into their pockets, there better not be millions or billions of dollars just laying around.

So, what we need to do is something a little more radical to make sure we know where the money is.

Let’s pass something that says that ALL funds—general, special, or revolving, statutory, administrative, or anything else—are maintained by the Department of Accounting and General Services (DAGS), the folks who are supposed to cut all or most of the State’s checks now. Agencies can spend the funds to the extent they can do so now, but DAGS gets the bank statements. (Of course, if the Legislature doesn’t like the extent to which a certain agency is spending money, it can change the law.)

If an agency tries to pull the wool over DAGS’ eyes, the responsible party can be punished for theft. People can go to the hoosegow for that.  By the way, our law (HRS sec. 708-830) already defines theft to include “failure to make required disposition of funds.”

Once we have a single agency responsible for keeping track of all the State’s money and measures in place to ensure that other agencies aren’t stashing cash in a closet somewhere, we should be able to figure out how much money we have. Then we, as the public, can have more confidence that our government can figure out its financial condition and tell us in the public the truth about it.

 

Links

TEXT "follow HawaiiFreePress" to 40404

Register to Vote

2aHawaii

808 Silent Majority

ACA Signups Hawaii

ALEC

Alliance Defending Freedom

Aloha Pregnancy Care Center

American Council of Trustees and Alumni

AntiPlanner

Antonio Gramsci Reading List

A Place for Women in Waipio

Astronomy Hawaii

Ballotpedia Hawaii

Better Hawaii

Blaisdell Memorial Project

Broken Trust

Build More Hawaiian Homes Working Group

ChinaTownWatch.com

Christian Homeschoolers of Hawaii

Cliff Slater's Second Opinion

Coffee Break

DeedySupport.com

DVids Hawaii

E Hana Kakou Kelii Akina

FIRE

Fix Oahu!

Follow the Money Hawaii

Frank in Hawaii

Front Page Magazine

Frontline: The Fixers

Genetic Literacy Project

Grassroot Institute

Habele.org

Hawaii Aquarium Fish Report

Hawaii Aviation Preservation Society

Hawaii Catholic TV

Hawaii Christian Coalition

Hawaii Cigar Association

Hawaii Coalition Against Legalized Gambling

Hawaii ConCon Info

Hawaii Credit Union Watch

Hawaii Crop Improvement Association

Hawaii Debt Clock

Hawaii Defense Foundation

Hawaii Family Advocates

Hawaii Family Forum

Hawaii Farmers and Ranchers United

Hawaii Farmer's Daughter

Hawaii Federalist Society

Hawaii Federation of Republican Women

Hawaii Future Project

Hawaii Gathering of Eagles

Hawaii History Blog

Hawaii Homeschool Association

Hawaii Jihadi Trial

Hawaii March for Life

Hawaii's Partnership for Appropriate & Compassionate Care

Hawaii Public Charter School Network

Hawaii Rifle Association

Hawaii Shippers Council

Hawaii Smokers Alliance

Hawaii State Data Lab

Hawaii Together

Heritage Foundation

HIEC.Coop

HiFiCo

Hiram Fong Papers

Homeschool Legal Defense Hawaii

Honolulu Navy League

Honolulu Traffic

House Minority Blog

I Vote Hawaii

If Hawaii News

Imua TMT

Inouye-Kwock, NYT 1992

Inside the Nature Conservancy

Inverse Condemnation

Investigative Project on Terrorism

Iowa Meets Maui

Jackson v Abercrombie

Jihad Watch

July 4 in Hawaii

Kahle v New Hope

Kakaako Cares

Kau TEA Party

Kauai Co GOP

Keep Hawaii's Heroes

KeyWiki

Land and Power in Hawaii

Legislative Committee Analysis Tool

Lessons in Firearm Education

Lingle Years

Malulani Foundation

Managed Care Matters -- Hawaii

Malama Pregnancy Center of Maui

Mauna Kea Recreational Users Group

MentalIllnessPolicy.org

Middle East Forum--The Legal Project

Mililani Conservatives for Change

Military Home Educators' Network Oahu

Missile Defense Advocacy

MIS Veterans Hawaii

Muslim Brotherhood in America

NAMI Hawaii

NARTH

Natatorium.org

National Christian Foundation Hawaii

National Parents Org Hawaii

National Wind Watch

New Hawaiian

New Zeal

NFIB Hawaii News

No GMO Means No Aloha

Northwest Economic Policy Seminar

Not Dead Yet, Hawaii

Now What I Really Think

NRA-ILA Hawaii

Oahu Alternative Transport

ObamaCare Abortion Hawaii

Obookiah

OHA Lies

Opt Out Today

OurFutureHawaii.com

Pacific Aviation Museum

Patients Rights Council Hawaii

PEACE Hawaii

People vs Machine

Pritchett Cartoons

Pro-GMO Hawaii

P.U.E.O.

RailRipoff.com

Rental by Owner Awareness Assn

Republican Party -- Hawaii State

Research Institute for Hawaii USA

Rick Hamada Show

RJ Rummel

Robotics Organizing Committee

Save Dillingham Airfield

School Choice in Hawaii

SenatorFong.com

Sink the Jones Act

Statehood for Guam

Tax Foundation of Hawaii

The Real Hanabusa

Time Out Honolulu

Trustee Akina KWO Columns

UCC Truths

US Tax Foundation Hawaii Info

VAREP Honolulu

Waagey.org

West Maui Taxpayers Association

What Natalie Thinks

Whole Life Hawaii

Yes2TMT