One other Wet Day Slush Fund

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Many people in Hawaii are conscious that we’ve an Emergency and Finances Reserve Fund, enshrined in chapter 328L, Hawaii Revised Statutes, to economize for a “wet day,” that’s to say, an emergency.  In the newest legislative session, the state funds invoice offers for an extra one billion {dollars} to be socked away into that fund, $500 million a yr.

However, because it seems, that’s not the one “reserve fund” we’ve.


Because the Division of Finances and Finance kindly explains on its web site, we’ve the Hawaii Hurricane Aid Fund (HHRF).  This fund was arrange in 1993 to supply hurricane insurance coverage protection for property house owners right here in Hawaii Nei in case the personal insurance coverage market proved unreliable.  This was considered a good suggestion when Hurricane Iniki whacked us in 1992.

Within the years since Iniki, nevertheless, personal insurers returned to the market.  The HHRF shut down in 2002.  Part 431P-16(i), HRS, contemplates that when the HHRF dissolves, any internet moneys remaining within the fund, after the fee of money owed and different obligations, will return to the State common fund.

Did that occur?  No.

As an alternative of dissolving the HHRF when it was clear that it was not wanted, State officers determined to maintain the cash – simply in case.  The Division of Finances and Finance says that there’s now $186.7 million left within the fund.

A bit greater than ten years in the past, lawmakers did the truth is faucet into the fund.  After the State’s funds took some hits from the Nice Recession of 2008, legal guidelines handed in 2010 and 2011 appropriated hundreds of thousands of {dollars} from the HHRF to revive public faculty educational days when our authorities discovered it essential to furlough state staff to make ends meet.  (Do you keep in mind “Furlough Fridays”?)  The legislation additionally allowed the Governor to faucet into the HHRF fund to keep up program ranges for important authorities providers, however required common excise tax revenues to be diverted in fiscal years 2014 and 2015 with a purpose to pay again the fund.

Consequently, we now have $186.7 million on this “simply in case” fund that not too many individuals find out about.

Our state authorities is taxing us, the taxpayers, at a really excessive charge to acquire cash that simply sits round doing nothing.  Not solely are we failing to tug down federal moneys which have been made accessible for us, as we’ve written about on a number of events earlier than, however we’re squirreling away tens or lots of of hundreds of thousands of {dollars} to collect mud in some financial institution someplace, moderately than placing the cash to make use of fulfilling primary wants.  Clearly, our lawmakers had been conscious of this secret fund, as they used the cash in 2010-11.  I’m wondering if our lawmakers at this time find out about this as nicely.  In the event that they do, why don’t they demand that the HHRF be dissolved with the stability of the fund transferred to the final fund, because the legislation requires?  Definitely, there’s a want for some cash to be saved apart simply in case, however we have already got a wet day fund for simply that function.  We fed $500 million to that fund final yr and are on observe to stuff it with one other billion {dollars} this and subsequent yr.

Let’s make it simpler for everybody.  If we’re going to put cash apart simply in case, let’s have it in a single place, the official Emergency and Finances Reserve Fund.  That approach everybody is aware of the place it’s, why it’s there, and the way a lot is put aside.  No hoarding money away in slush funds!