Wednesday, June 12, 2024
Hawai'i Free Press

Current Articles | Archives

Friday, March 3, 2017
Hawaii's Unsustainable Cost of Public Employment
By Keli'i Akina PhD @ 4:04 PM :: 5398 Views :: Hawaii Statistics, Labor

Hawaii's Unsustainable Cost of Public Employment

From Grassroot Institute, March 3, 2017

Hawaii's police officers and firefighters have some of the most respected positions in the state ... from an economic perspective, at least. In fact, new research from the Grassroot Institute suggests that Hawaii has a deep appreciation for public sector workers in general.

County workers throughout the state make higher wages than nearly all of their mainland counterparts (adjusted for the cost of living). And police and firefighters have the highest average wages of any Hawaii county employees at $75,000 per year, not including benefits or overtime.

And those benefits are well-known to be generous. Our research shows that government benefits in Hawaii have grown at a rate five times faster than benefits in the private sector.

Given all of these attractions, it's not a surprise that Hawaii's public sector is growing faster than the private sector, where median wages are, on average, only $38,750 per year.

But while those public sector workers deserve competitive wages and benefits, there is a looming danger in the explosive growth of our state government. And those same public sector workers could end up paying a steep price.

In short, our current rate of public sector growth is unsustainable. Generous employee benefits have landed the state in a pension crisis with unfunded liabilities now topping $23 billion. At this point, taxpayers are footing 76% of the bill for government workers' pensions and health care, despite those workers only making up 15% of the total workforce. And any estimates of future costs are frustrated by the fact that the state continues to negotiate generous benefit packages without regard for the long-term effect on our budget and economy.

Governor Ige has made the right moves towards paying down the unfunded liabilities, but that's only part of the problem. Unless we make a fundamental change in our pension system, the state is going to saddled with this debt for decades to come. Moreover, that debt will grow until it threatens not only government programs and services, but the jobs and retirement benefits of the workers themselves.

It is in the best interest of the state to ensure that our public sector workers are well provided for. But it is in everyone's interest--those workers included--to make sure that we are not building a house of cards. We must work together to bring public sector salaries and benefits in line with what the private sector can support.

E hana kakou (Let's work together!),

Keli'i Akina, Ph.D.

President/CEO

Links

TEXT "follow HawaiiFreePress" to 40404

Register to Vote

2aHawaii

Aloha Pregnancy Care Center

AntiPlanner

Antonio Gramsci Reading List

A Place for Women in Waipio

Ballotpedia Hawaii

Broken Trust

Build More Hawaiian Homes Working Group

Christian Homeschoolers of Hawaii

Cliff Slater's Second Opinion

DVids Hawaii

FIRE

Fix Oahu!

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 ConCon Info

Hawaii Debt Clock

Hawaii Defense Foundation

Hawaii Family Forum

Hawaii Farmers and Ranchers United

Hawaii Farmer's Daughter

Hawaii Federation of Republican Women

Hawaii History Blog

Hawaii Jihadi Trial

Hawaii Legal News

Hawaii Legal Short-Term Rental Alliance

Hawaii Matters

Hawaii Military History

Hawaii's Partnership for Appropriate & Compassionate Care

Hawaii Public Charter School Network

Hawaii Rifle Association

Hawaii Shippers Council

Hawaii Together

HiFiCo

Hiram Fong Papers

Homeschool Legal Defense Hawaii

Honolulu Navy League

Honolulu Traffic

House Minority Blog

Imua TMT

Inouye-Kwock, NYT 1992

Inside the Nature Conservancy

Inverse Condemnation

July 4 in Hawaii

Land and Power in Hawaii

Lessons in Firearm Education

Lingle Years

Managed Care Matters -- Hawaii

MentalIllnessPolicy.org

Missile Defense Advocacy

MIS Veterans Hawaii

NAMI Hawaii

Natatorium.org

National Parents Org Hawaii

NFIB Hawaii News

NRA-ILA Hawaii

Obookiah

OHA Lies

Opt Out Today

Patients Rights Council Hawaii

Practical Policy Institute of Hawaii

Pritchett Cartoons

Pro-GMO Hawaii

RailRipoff.com

Rental by Owner Awareness Assn

Research Institute for Hawaii USA

Rick Hamada Show

RJ Rummel

School Choice in Hawaii

SenatorFong.com

Talking Tax

Tax Foundation of Hawaii

The Real Hanabusa

Time Out Honolulu

Trustee Akina KWO Columns

Waagey.org

West Maui Taxpayers Association

What Natalie Thinks

Whole Life Hawaii