Kokua Line

By June Watanabe

Monday, May 21, 2001

State’s retirement fund
operates on 2 levels

Question: How much does each employee contribute to the state and county employee retirement fund, and how is this fund derived? Do elected and appointed officials contribute to this fund? What are the qualifications for retirement age, and what happens if they are not re-elected?

Answer: An employee's occupation determines the contribution rate and formula used to calculate pension benefits, according to David Shimabukuro, administrator of the state Employees' Retirement System.

Employees in the contributory plan contribute 7.8 percent or 12.2 percent of their compensation (according to Hawaii Revised Statutes, Section 88-45), while employees in the noncontributory plan do not contribute anything to the fund. As a result, the latter have lower pension benefits than those who do contribute.

The ERS's funds are derived from employee contributions, state and county employer contributions and income from investments, Shimabukuro said. An actuary hired by the board of trustees determines the annual employer contributions (HRS, Section 88-122).

Elected officials, appointed state and county department heads and their deputies are part of the contributory plan, contributing 7.8 percent of their compensation to the ERS, he said. Other appointed officials are usually members on the noncontributory plan, he said.

Elected officials with at least 10 years of service may retire at any age or at age 55 if they have at least five years of service, he said. If they're not re-elected, Shimabukuro said they may retire if they are eligible to do so, defer retirement to age 55 if they have at least five but less than 10 years of service, give up their ERS membership and forfeit any future benefits by withdrawing their contributions plus 4.5 percent interest, or leave their contributions and try to get re-elected or some kind of state or county job.

Auwe and Mahalo

About 6:30 p.m. one Thursday in April, my car stalled on Hoolai Street in Kailua, several blocks from my home. I was with my two children, one of them a baby. I called AAA to get a tow truck. In the meantime, my son had to use the restroom. I went to a nearby gym and explained the situation to two guys. I first was told that the restroom was for members only. Then, I was told OK, my son could use the restroom. I said, "Oh, thank you, where is it?" Then one guy tells me to take my son downstairs, outside, between the two buildings. I could not believe it. They had no compassion, no feelings, no aloha spirit. They degraded me by telling me that in front of my son. Then I went to Blockbuster's, where they let my son use the employee restroom. They treated me so nice. Mahalo to them for showing common decency to someone who needed help. -- Distraught but now appreciative mom


To our Honolulu Police Department heroes, especially Officer Mike Tiwanak. I had a little fender bender, and he came to my assistance. He filled out the forms and told me to turn it in to my insurance company. I was shaken up but he reassured me. Mahalo to one of the best. -- Ed

Got a question or complaint?
Call 529-4773, fax 529-4750, or write to Kokua Line,
Honolulu Star-Bulletin, 500 Ala Moana Blvd., No. 7-210,
Honolulu 96813. As many as possible will be answered.
Email to

E-mail to City Desk

Text Site Directory:
[News] [Business] [Features] [Sports] [Editorial] [Do It Electric!]
[Classified Ads] [Search] [Subscribe] [Info] [Letter to Editor]

© 2001 Honolulu Star-Bulletin