Kokua Line

By June Watanabe

Tuesday, October 9, 2001

Gov needs legislators’
OK to touch
hurricane fund

Question: Could you please explain to me how Gov. Cayetano can take the Hawaii Hurricane Relief Fund without it being an illegal tax on those who were mandated to contribute to this fund? We paid into an insurance relief fund, and every time I turn around, he is trying to rob the fund for his own purposes. How can he do this? If he robs this fund, will those of us who paid into it get a refundable tax credit for the total amount we were forced to contribute?

Answer: The governor can't touch the $195 million fund without the approval of the state Legislature.

According to the state law that set up the fund, the money in it when it closes is to be turned over to the state. The fund's insurance operations stop Dec. 1. So far, the Legislature has decided to keep the fund intact in case of a future disaster. Having a hurricane relief fund supposedly will help in getting federal aid if another hurricane strikes.

Although many people believe those who paid into the fund should receive refunds, state Insurance Commissioner Wayne Metcalf explained it this way earlier this year:

"People may be saying, 'I want my money back,' but just like any kind of insurance, you paid for protection," he said. "It's not like if you don't have a hurricane, you get your money back."

Interestingly, last year, when the state decided it could stop maintaining the fund because private insurers had begun re-offering hurricane insurance, Cayetano was one of those arguing the money should be refunded. He later suggested using interest from the fund for University of Hawaii scholarships.

The issue was and continues to be debated. In addition to calls for refunds and the scholarship fund, there were suggestions during the last legislative session that the money be used to fund public-worker pay raises.

In light of the current economy, there is talk about giving tax breaks to help businesses keep afloat. The problem is how to offset a drop in tax revenues without slashing the budget.

Cayetano is proposing to tap into both the state's $40 million rainy-day fund, which is money set aside from the federal tobacco lawsuit settlement, and the hurricane fund.

Q: Undoubtedly, many people are taking steps to store water in containers. Since most water containers are 5 gallons, how much bleach should be put into each to insure purity and shelf life?

A: You don't need to put bleach into the water; you should use it just to clean your container.

The Board of Water Supply says you can store local water from the tap indefinitely. It previously gave us these tips:

Thoroughly clean your containers, first washing with soap and water, then rinsing with a mixture of 2 tablespoons Clorox or chlorinated equivalent to 2 gallons of water. After that, rinse thoroughly with water before filling with water.

Stay away from containers that may infuse the water with residual smells, such as of mayonnaise or pickles. Fill the container with tap water to the very top. Leave as little air space between the cap and water as possible. Store in a cool, dark place.

Internet music

Regarding Hawaiian music on the radio and Internet radio ("Kokua Line," Oct. 4): The absolute best Hawaiian music source is Internet Radio Hawaii ( Longtime deejay and Kailua resident Rabbett Abbett broadcasts excellent Hawaiian programming 24 hours a day. It is the best link to our beloved Hawaii for those of us who are away from the islands. -- Tom Garber

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