Open Letter to Rep. Neil Abercrombie: Save Hawai'i's Schools

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October 23rd, 2009 :: Permalink

Honorable Representative Abercrombie ~
I sent this message, a second request, to President Obama on behalf of the people of Hawai'i. As you know, and mahalo for your letter cited by Derrick DePledge in his blog today, our schools and state government are in chaos. This is not good for our local economy. I am an economist. We need stimulus now - not further contraction. The only real solution is to get help from the federal government. I have included my appeal to our president below.

Thank you again for all that you do for our great state.


Aloha Honorable President Obama ~
I am an economist and wrote to you a week ago with a request. Your 'ohana in Hawai'i - over 1.3 million people - needs your help. I am begging you to assist this struggling state.

Hawai'i's state legislature meets every two years to do business. At present the state is facing an estimated $1 billion shortfall over the next two years. Under the current Republican administration, Gov. Lingle will close the shortfall by shredding the ranks of civil servants. She refused to consider balancing the pain by imposing higher taxes on the MOST RICH.

In normal times I would understand if Washington ignored a state concern. Yet we aren't in normal times.

You are correct to spend trillions of taxpayer dollars to save our national and international economies. Yet over 28 states have been forced into major cuts in their spending - which is regressive and works against your stimulus.

The right hand of the fed is being thwarted by the left hand of the states. Your administration must create more jobs and thousands will be either cut by Lingle or suffer forced reduction in hours or pay. This is not to the benefit of America or our struggling economy.

In addition please consider what this does to our state. Under the current proposal, education will be reduced by 17 days in a state where our Keiki already struggle. Inspectors will be cut and they work to protect our food, the 'aina and kai, and many other critical sectors. These programs were built over many years to be efficient and lean. Now they will be destroyed overnight as Lingle takes a hatchet to departments.

You have the power and authority to provide a quick and sound solution - cover our state shortfall of $1 billion. This is like a penny relative to the total cost of the bailout. Just today we received news that tourism is down dramatically. We need these state jobs and our state workers need full pay so they can continue to do their part to stimulate the local economy. It's simple Keynesian economics.

I ask you to think of this as a New Deal WPA-type program. Roosevelt created new programs and jobs to help stimulate the failed economy. You do not need to create new jobs, just support existing ones. If you can do this for the current two-year cycle, we will be able to adjust resources and personnel to match economic conditions. Our problem is the crisis, and due to haste, we are making bad choices regarding our public sector (and many Republicans cheer as we destroy regulatory capability).

Please help us now ... our Keiki are confused; parents are upset; we are losing vital protections when pollution and overuse threaten all the islands and our ecosystem.

With a stroke of a pen, you can bring peace and tranquility back to our homeland. We will bring our house back to order. We simply need time and you can give this to us.

Aloha and mahalo nui loa for all that you are doing under these most difficult times.


Scott Goold