DO YOU WANT TO BE A PART OF THE SOLUTION MOVING FOR A BETTER WEST MAUI?
Due to the challenges of the Covid -19 Pandemic spreading across the world, Hawaii ‘s unemployment went from the lowest to the highest in the nation. In the past 9 months, it seems we have experienced a Financial crisis which is in many ways worse than the years from 2008-2012.
With God’s help and guidance in the midst of all these extraordinary challenges, we can learn what we need to do to remedy and cure immediate health and safety needs and set the stage for our future.
The WMTA and the WMIF have been calling attention to our community need for better access to urgent health care especially due to our isolation from our only Emergency room of the “other side,” over an hour away.
We are alarmed with statements from our governmental leaders looking at cutting budgeted expenses for departments connected with the health and safety of our community. We respectfully advocate for increased attention to improve the resiliency of our community and invest in improving our health care infrastructure.
It’s been previously stated that “You simply cannot afford NOT to be financially supporting the West Maui Taxpayers Association.” Why? Because they have already saved every property owner more that 500% of what an annual membership fee cost is and their efforts continue to do that and more for the West Maui Community. While saving money has been important, our efforts have literally saved priceless lives as seen in the Napili Fire and Ambulance Station. We have done the impossible and with God’s help and your financial support, we can do more.
Please make it a point to review our web site at www.westmaui.org Our track record speaks for itself.
We would love to hear from you and encourage you to do so with an additional donation to help us continue to help accordingly. Together, we CAN make a difference.
WMTA Shares these commentaries, without taking a position unless otherwise noted, to bring information to our readers to view the archives of the Tax Foundation of Hawaii's commentary click here.
Standardless Spending, Part 2?
By Tom Yamachika, President
A few weeks ago, we wrote about how the State’s procurement law was suspended by Governor’s Emergency Proclamation. We argued it meant standardless spending, and we were delighted to report last week that the issue was addressed in the most recent Emergency Proclamation.
In a prior article and a follow-up, we followed $1.25 billion of federal money that the CARES Act set aside for Hawai’i. We could have it if we could actually spend the money by year’s end.
The Legislature spent much time figuring out how to allocate those funds between the agencies that wanted them and passed an appropriation bill. The Governor line-item vetoed more than $300 million of those appropriations, and then used the $300 million for the Hawai’i restaurant card program.
Now, I don’t think the restaurant card program is a bad thing, but I do have a concern with how the money got there. The Legislature is supposed to dole out our money between competing priorities. The Governor is spending $300 million on something else.
As for the other $500 million that the Legislature did appropriate, we are worried about standardless spending there, as the State Auditor pointed out in a recent report.
As we mentioned, the federal money has strings attached. It must be spent on previously unbudgeted, COVID-19 related, expenses. The State needed to designate a point of contact for the Federal Government so they could figure out if the conditions were being complied with. That contact was in the Department of Budget and Finance (B&F).
So, what kind of oversight is B&F exercising over the $800+ million in appropriated and non-appropriated money, to make sure it meets federal requirements as well as normal budgetary procedures and controls?
According to the Auditor’s report: None.
B&F basically told the departments, “Here’s your money. Go spend it.”
Are we going to “spend every penny,” as the Governor promised, before year end? And in accordance with federal requirements?
It’s going to be tough. Already the Auditor has noticed inconsistencies in how money is being tracked. “In our review of CRF funds [Coronavirus Relief Fund, i.e., CARES Act money] reports,” the Auditor wrote, “we found significant discrepancies in the State’s accounting of moneys allocated, encumbered, and, most importantly, expended. This inconsistent monitoring and tracking of CRF moneys raise concerns about the State’s ability to distribute the funds in a proper and timely manner.”
Uh-oh. It looks like we may be going down the path of standardless spending again. That path has a much higher risk of undesirable outcomes. If we can’t figure out how much we’ve spent, we might spend too much and thereby spend money we don’t have. Or we might not be spending enough or for the right things, either of which could result in having to repay Uncle Sam. To get off this path, we need coordinated tracking, and we need standards. This is something we can’t afford to get wrong!
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