Budget cuts affect all government agencies
Gov. Linda Lingle has complained that legislators cut budgets for programs to help the homeless and low-income renters.
The flattening of Hawaii's economy has resulted in unfortunate cutbacks in programs aimed a helping the poor, and the state and counties should look at ways to minimize the harm as they tighten spending. The only positive aspect is that many other states are worse off.
Gov. Linda Lingle is angry that the Legislature provided for only partial funding for or totally eliminated programs aimed at helping the homeless, low-income renters and first-time buyers. "When they cut the money for the homeless programs," she said, "it was really devastating to me." Some bills fell victim to last-minute budget cuts by legislators, she observed.
Likewise, those whose priority is providing legal services to the needy are disappointed. A new judiciary commission will seek to secure stable state funding for agencies such as Volunteer Legal Services Hawaii, but nothing is stable during an economic downturn.
The state's "broad pattern of slowing over the past several years ... became more pronounced in 2007," reflecting trends in construction, visitor spending and overall economic activity, according to a new report by the University of Hawaii Economic Research Organization.
The report predicts that Hawaii's job growth and real income growth will hover around zero percent this year in each of the four counties. "Our expectation is that it will be several years before the islands return to a moderate pace of economic expansion," it says. Oahu is predicted to begin recovering in 2010.
State Sen. Suzanne Chun Oakland, chairwoman of the Human Services and Public Housing Committee, said housing bills were not neglected in comparison with other areas that also experienced cuts. "I think health and human services did the best," she told the Star-Bulletin's Richard Borreca.
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