DEAL ENSURES TUITION INCREASES IN FUTURE
The University of Hawaii Professional Assembly union gained a significant victory over both new UH President M.R.C. Greenwood and the other public sector unions with its new six-year contract. Instead of taking a "real" pay cut, with (via furloughs) or without an accompanying reduction in work hours, the UH faculty negotiated deferred payment of part of their pay for the first two years to the later years. This is in addition to a guaranteed pay increase in the later years.
As the governor and Legislature in those future years cannot commit tax revenue (general funds) to pay for this, Greenwood must in the next fiscal year propose additional or continued tuition increases to pay for part or all of the rising faculty/labor costs.
And when the present two-year contracts agreed to by the non-faculty public sector unions that call for real cuts end next fiscal year, there will be calls for pay increases for their UH members. Tuition increases will likely be used to help pay for any pay increases as well.
Greenwood has in effect guaranteed that the cost of public higher education in Hawaii for both the public/employer and the consumer/students will keep increasing for the next six years.
EDMUND LEONG | Honolulu
ELECTED OFFICIALS NEED TO STAND UP
Clearly, the Republican Supreme Court is not acting in the best interest of the American people, what we stand for and what we believe in — a government of the people, by the people and for the people.
We cannot let the Republicans and Corporate America choose our elected representatives. Now is the time for some already elected officials to stand up and be counted and to refuse the buyout by Corporate America and the GOP Supremes.
CORDELL HAUGEN | Honolulu
DOE, BOEBUDGET CLAIM IS MISLEADING
In Board of Education Chairman Garrett Toguchi's letter, he mentions my "disservice to public education by neglecting the accomplishments of our educators and students and inflating the Department of Education's budget." I am so adamant about not sugar-coating the BOE and DOE's problems because I regularly hear so many complaints from principals, teachers and parents. They echo my frustrations; it is the BOE who does a disservice to public education by not facing the facts.
The BOE is misleading the public in its claim that their budget is only $1.66 billion. The cost of education in Hawaii includes the sizeable costs of medical and retirement benefits for Department of Education employees as well as the costs of the department's debt service. Those expenses amounted to $644 million (FY10) and $673 million (FY11).The accounting for these expenditures began under Gov. Ben Cayetano, and they were included as part of the DOE's budget.
In 2009, the Legislature's money committees technically shifted those expenditures away from the DOE to B&F for accounting purposes. Consequently, DOE's budget shows $1.66 billion only on an accounting balance sheet. But in reality, the total amount of money expended by taxpayers on all education-related expenses is more than $2 billion.
LYNN FINNEGAN, House Republican Leader | District 32
CUTTING CORNERS CAN LEAD TO HEADACHES
Beware of politicians whose claim is "I can get it for you cheaper."
I think that Gov. Linda Lingle is doing a good job, but her last-minute comments on the rail system could sink the whole project.
In the 12 years that I was director of civil service under Mayor Frank Fasi, there are two examples of this that I can think of. When Mayor Fasi proposed building the Honolulu Municipal Building, the council went into the money-saving mode and insisted on a smaller building than Fasi wanted.
When it was finished, the building was too small to house all of the city offices, so we had to rent space around town for those departments that were left out.
The same thing happened with the Blaisdell Center arena. To save a few dollars, it was built too small to house a regulation-size hockey rink. The result was that when the Ice Capades came to town, they had to downsize the show because it required a regulation-sized hockey rink or larger for the full show.
It would be a shame if these mistakes were repeated in building the rail system. It would be a shame if it got dumped for reasons that are obviously political.
HARRY BORANIAN | Líhue, Kauai
OVERHAUL SHOULDN'T BE COMPLICATED
I believe that health care reform need not be as complicated as Washington makes it out to be.
First, if doctors can pay less for their current high malpractice insurance premiums, our health care costs should go down. Tort reform to cap the compensation a patient could be awarded would lower our insurance premiums.
Also, if insurance companies could cross state lines, that would bring on competition and lower insurance premiums. Then maybe we would have the Walmarts and Kmarts of health insurance nationally, and have good, inexpensive coverage.
Finally, pharmaceuticals are very expensive in this country. In many other countries the same drug from the same company is much cheaper. Our government severely restricts our ability to buy drugs from overseas. Let hospitals, patients, doctors, etc. buy from anywhere in the world and our drugs could be purchased at a much cheaper cost.
These ideas do not involve big government. The problem is that health insurance companies, litigation lawyers and the pharmaceutical industry have strong lobbyists and have the government in their pockets.
JOHN MATEJKO | Pearl City