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The Honolulu Advertiser
Posted on: Wednesday, March 10, 2010

Economists: Hawaii should hike taxes to decrease social-service cutbacks

Advertiser Staff

More than 150 people gathered at the state Capitol this morning to talk about the long-term effects of state cutbacks to public services.

Three economists spoke at the forum and they agreed that the state should consider using special funds and temporarily increasing taxes to help decrease cuts.
The economists also said state cuts burden the economy in the short- and long-run.
“In terms of social services, there’s a lot of things if you cut now you end up paying later in worse human outcomes,” said economist Paul Brewbaker.
Social service providers and state employees also spoke at the event, including a Health Department sanitation supervisor and a child welfare services investigator.
“Our investigators are drowning” in cases, said Petrice Bell, a Child and Adult Protective Services specialist with the Department of Human Services on the Big Island. “It should be illegal what has happened to our programs.”
Alex Santiago, executive director of PHOCUSED, a consortium of social service providers that organized today’s forum, said the safety net for the state’s most vulnerable is in danger of being lost.
“I am sick of it (the cuts). You should be too,” he told attendees. “Are we going to just sit back and let that occur?”