The Hawaii Legislature's Exercise in Short-Term Thinking
by Keli'i Akina, Ph.D., President/CEO, Grassroot Institute of Hawaii
In case we had forgotten, it's an election year.
There seem to be few other reasonable explanations for the legislature's decision to override the Governor's veto on the Maui hospital worker's bill, creating a multi-million dollar payout for union workers who were already guaranteed jobs and pensions in the original terms of the transition.
Along with the Governor, Grassroot Institute warned against the payout. Not only is it expensive--increasing the state's unfunded liabilities when we've only just begun to address the issue--but it may put the entire ERS fund at risk of losing its tax-exempt status.
In essence, the legislature just handed the Hawaii taxpayers a bill, and even they don't know how high it's going to be.
And that's not the only problem with the legislature's actions. This public-private partnership was forged for the sake of the people of Maui, who were suffering from a grossly inadequate hospital system. The transition was supposed to have been completed by the beginning of this month, but has been delayed by lawsuits and obstructionism. The override proves that the state is willing to put special interests above the health of its citizens.
This isn't the first project to be frustrated and delayed by the state's political dealings, but we must make it the last. If we cannot make a success of this partnership, we may lose this promising path to better healthcare and services in Hawaii.