Programs and services for Hawaii's children, many of which faced the budget ax last session, could be trimmed further if the nation goes to war with Iraq, a House lawmaker said Thursday.
Legislator says Iraq war
jeopardizes kids services
"In all likelihood it will probably result in a greater deficit and possibly even more cuts in services for our children and families," said state Rep. Dennis Arakaki, chairman of the House Health Committee.
Arakaki is one of 33 lawmakers in the Legislature's "Keiki Caucus," a bipartisan coalition that focuses on children as a legislative priority.
Arakaki (D, Alewa Heights-Kalihi) said the caucus had four main areas of concern: better health care coverage for Hawaii's children, improved dental care, standards for physical education in schools and measures to prevent substance abuse.
One measure seeks to use some of the state's tobacco settlement funds to expand eligibility for children's health insurance programs.
Past bills aimed at improving dental health by fluoridating community water supplies have failed. Arakaki said the new approach would be a community and school-based education initiative coupled with increased dental screenings to promote better oral hygiene.
Other efforts aimed at improving the health of Hawaii's children include a bill to establish standards for physical fitness and a ban on some soft drinks and junk foods in school vending machines, Arakaki said.
To prevent drug and alcohol abuse, lawmakers are exploring the possibility of increasing taxes on cigarettes and liquor to fund intervention and treatment programs, Arakaki said.
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