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Sunday, August 30, 2009
August 30, 2009 News Read
By Andrew Walden @ 2:09 PM :: 9464 Views

Lingle meeting with Cabinet, directors over budget spending cuts

Gov. Linda Lingle met yesterday with her Cabinet and is expected to continue talking with state department directors today on further state spending cuts and layoffs to close the state's budget deficit....The governor's response also came after she rejected the Hawai'i Government Employees Association counter-proposal to the state's latest contract offer. The state and the union are scheduled for a binding arbitration hearing on Friday.

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HA: Don't panic: Stimulus still can work here

Are we there yet? Has the stimulus package of federal aid prodded Hawai'i into the post-recession safe zone?  Not yet. In fact, other states have spent more of their federal boon than has Hawai'i in the early months of the program.  But that's reason for heightened vigilance on how the program plays out, not panic about how it may already have failed.  (Message to Legislative Democrats: Do not prepare to take responsibility for solving Hawaii's budget collapse.  Money will fall out of the sky and save us all.)

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$1B in Hawaii state investments tied up

For the past 18 months the state has been unable to use $1 billion it sank into supposedly highly liquid, short-term investments because of a collapse in trading of the securities.

No one knows for certain when the state will get its money out of so-called auction-rate securities, and an auditor recently required the state to revalue its holdings at $114 million less than what it paid for the investments.

RELATED: Follow the Money: From Barack Obama to Hawaii's frozen Billion

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Lapses noted in fiscal reporting

"Although the state's accounting system is thought to be centralized, and the departments are required to reconcile their separate accounting systems to the state's accounting system, the reality is that the departments operate independently from DAGS (the Department of Accounting and General Services), which is responsible for the state's accounting system," the audit said.

"Because of this, statewide accounting, internal control and financial reporting policies and procedures are difficult to implement and enforce."

"Because of the inadequate internal control over financial reporting ... material misstatements in the financial presentation due to error or fraud could occur and not be detected on a timely basis," the audit said.

"The fact is our accounting system is 30 years old," Saito said.

Higa agreed that it will cost much money to update the state's accounting system with new computers, software and training.

But she said there are costs for not taking action, including the possibility that investors who buy Hawai'i's bonds will require higher interest rates because they aren't as confident in numbers produced by the state.

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Inspector layoffs may mean near ‘shutdown’ of imports

PUKALANI - Plant quarantine officials said last week that laying off more than half the state's agricultural inspectors would create such a logjam at Hawaii ports that it could cause shortages similar to those seen during shipping strikes.

Carol Okada, manager of the Hawaii Department of Agriculture's Plant Quarantine Branch, said she has not been able to develop a plan for how her department will continue its core functions after it loses 52 employees, 50 of them inspectors, to layoffs planned for November.

(Problem created by HGEA refusal to accept furloughs.)

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HGEA: Lingle to ban Christmas

Carol Okada, manager of the Hawaii Department of Agriculture's Plant Quarantine Branch, said her division would likely not have the resources to inspect the nearly 200 containers of Christmas trees imported to the state, and she would not allow them to enter unchecked because they are considered very likely to contain nasty invasive pests including snakes and tree wasps.

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Academic initiative needs funding

Unfortunately, $500,000 to support advanced placement classes was cut from the current state budget. Federal funds, foundation grants and donations are being sought to support the Step Up initiative.  ($500K is prolly less than what is stolen from the State every month thanks to its antique accounting systems.  Alt solution: Fire 5 DoE bureaucrats.)

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Hamakua land sale decision predestined by county officials

Currently in the works is the sale of 16 Paauilo parcels totaling 737 acres and assessed for tax purposes at $8.2 million. Awaiting sale after an environmental assessment are another 1,040 acres in Koholalele and 10 parcels in Kapulena totaling 1,739 acres.

(Good.  More land in private hands out of government control.  More Hawaii residents will be owners rather than dependents.  This is a step towards freedom.  Contrast with next article.)

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Molokai tensions grow over huge water rate hike pending approval

(After OHA activist Walter Ritte and OHA Trustee Colette Machado fought to a standstill over which one of them would seize Molokai Ranch, the Ranch went BK.  Now Molokaians are upset because the Ranch no longer wants to subsidize their water.) 

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Hawaii Democrats reprimand senator over civil-union e-mail

State Democrats agreed yesterday to uphold a reprimand against state Sen. Mike Gabbard, finding the senator actively worked against a civil-unions bill last session.  (Message: No free speech in the "Democratic" Party.)

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Akaka bill opposed by civil rights panel

(Advertiser plays catch up again.  We had this yesterday.)

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Undersea power cable tests moxie

(Jay Fidell touts The Next Big Thing.  How many previous Big Things have crashed and burned?  Time to let lots of little guys have a chance.)

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Candidate touts ‘Abercrombie advantage’

LIHU‘E — One way or the other, Neil Abercrombie is coming home.  (No comment.)

Abercrombie said a “triangle” between the White House, home to Hawai‘i-born President Barack Obama, the Democrat-controlled Congress and Hawai‘i’s governor seat would increase the likelihood of the Akaka Bill becoming law and would give the 50th state a pipeline to federal money that has been an unrealized opportunity in the past. (Sounds like he doesn't think the Akaka Bill is gonna pass this year--or next!)

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