Letters to the Editor


POSTED: Friday, September 25, 2009

Staff cuts costlier than tax hikes

It is starting to become obvious that the layoffs and furloughs are costing the hard-working taxpayers of this state much more than the alternative, which is raising taxes.

This is true not just for state employees. Ask any parent who is struggling to find day care for their children on the furlough days, ask any farmer who cannot get their produce inspected, ask any University of Hawaii student who won't be able to graduate on time because they were shut out of a class, if they would be willing to pay another half-percent in general excise tax to avoid this mess.

For those of you who have no children and aren't public employees, farmers or students and think you are better off with no tax increase, don't worry: Once the United Public Workers and Hawaii Government Employees Association settle and the layoffs and furloughs are in full force, you will have a chance to share the pain and the cost, as well.

The bottom line is that the degradation of government services will cost the residents of this state real money, and for most of us those costs will prove to be much larger than the increase in taxes needed to maintain those services.

John P. Wendell


State policies hurting education of our kids

It was sad that teachers felt they had to approve the contract and accept 17 or more furlough days—an 8 percent pay cut. But it was understandable: The teachers were concerned about colleagues who faced possible layoffs despite the harm they knew furlough days would do to the students. The reduced pay would also make it harder to retain and recruit good teachers.

The teachers were told or believed they had to choose between layoffs and furloughs—a false proposition which ignores the fact that the state has the authority to raise revenues and use its rainy day and hurricane funds. If the governor and Legislature had opted for a modest excise tax hike, for instance—1 percent more for a two-year period—furloughs and layoffs of other state employees would not have been necessary and the school budget would not have been slashed.

The result of the furloughs is that the number of instructional days for students will be lowered to 161, possibly the lowest in the U.S.

As the ship of state flounders in the turbulent waters of the current economic crisis, Gov. Linda Lingle's solution has been to throw the children overboard, along with their teachers. Her policies not only harm teachers but also undermine the education of our children. These callous measures only deepen and prolong the recession, and should be opposed.

Our too-silent, inert legislators need to speak up, step up and enact revenue-enhancing legislation as soon as possible.

John Witeck


AARP betrays seniors on health care issue

In the past, AARP has been a strong supporter of senior citizens. However, the current controversy concerning health care reform is a different matter. AARP has supported the House of Representatives plan, the initial Senate plan and the current Sen. Max Baucus compromise plan. Each of these plans have major differences, but a constant factor in all of them is that Medicare funding will be cut by more than $500 billion. The reductions would affect managed-care plans, hospitals and other providers.

However, John Rother, top policy strategist for AARP, has stated that seniors' benefits should not be eroded. By reducing payments to hospitals and doctors, it seems obvious that many health care providers will refuse to accept Medicare patients.

In addition, the use of expensive procedures like CT scans, heart by-pass surgery, etc., will be rationed, and the ability to get supplemental Medicare insurance will be reduced. The bottom line is that AARP has betrayed all seniors by supporting the health care reform plans currently proposed by Congress.

Bill Erler


GOP senators should block 'ObamaCare'

I support a Republican “;shutdown”; of the Senate if the Democrats try and ram ObamaCare down our throats!

Maury Pendleton

Pearl City




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