OHA OKs $15.1M settlement
The state deal on land trust payments awaits legislative approval
The Office of Hawaiian Affairs voted yesterday to approve an agreement with the state that will net a 50 percent increase in annual payments to the agency to $15.1 million.
The vote by OHA's board of trustees was 8-0 with one abstention.
They were deciding on whether to accept a partial settlement in a dispute over how much money the agency deserves from lands that belonged to the former Hawaiian kingdom. About 1.4 million acres, or 95 percent of all state land, is former crown land held in trust by the state.
The agreement now must be approved by the state Legislature before it is completed. The Legislature plans to take up the issue Feb. 22.
The deal also pays a one-time $17.5 million lump sum transfer to the state agency set up to help native Hawaiians for payments applied retroactively to 2001. OHA aims to ensure the perpetuation of Hawaiian culture and enhance the lifestyle of Hawaiians. It also says it works for protection of entitlements of Hawaiians.
This money will help many of the agencies that depend on OHA to survive, said Marvina Cash-Kaeo.
"While identified needs to the Hawaiian community continue to grow, the resources to meet those needs continue to dwindle," Cash-Kaeo said.
A 1980 law says OHA is entitled to 20 percent of money derived from the land trust.
The office has been receiving about $10 million annually as its share of those revenues, including harbor fees, leases from a portion of the land under the jurisdiction of the Department of Transportation and parking revenues from Iolani Palace and other ceded lands.
The deal does not resolve another disagreement over other money that OHA believes it is entitled to.
OHA is still fighting for a portion of funds generated by duty-free concessionaires at Honolulu Airport, which also sit on ceded land. The agency argues it further deserves money from airport landing fees as well as money from land that sits under Hilo Hospital and the University of Hawaii at Manoa.
A decision in a lawsuit over that revenue is pending before the state Supreme Court.