Friday, December 23, 2005


A Dream Come False - poverty despite the surplus

You work hard all your life and now it's time to settle down in that apartment, house or condo and relax. But wait...

Even as Governor Lingle and the legislature begin to spar over how to spend the anticipated budget surplus, seniors, those living with disabilities and others on fixed incomes are wondering where the money will come from for food or for medicine. There's no surplus for them--indeed, hard times are ahead for many.

Costs for everything are rising:

* property assessments are up 26% and the mayor wants to keep the windfall

* energy costs have skyrocketed

* the cost of medical care has risen steadily and federal assistance is being cut back

* rent is totally outa sight -- many people cannot find anything at all they can afford and are living with friends or family

* even the cost of plate lunches is up

* and just wait for that new excise tax which is supposed to pay for a transportation system that will benefit very few of us

Most seniors who participated in the 2005 Senior Legislature preferred that the surplus be used for needed social services instead of a refund (see SB1, Urging the governor and the legislature to use the state’s surplus to meet the unmet critical social, educational, health, long-term care, transportation, and other needs in the best interest of our State, rather than issuing a tax refund). [See more on the Silver Legislature on the Kokua Council website.]

A small refund seems like a political move, given all the needs the state has in the area of education, health care and infrastructure.

What no one has done to my knowledge is run the numbers for people in a variety of situations. When someone has to choose between buying food or paying for medicine, will a $300 refund be of much use? What kind of relief will work best?

C'mon, folks at the legislature, you can do the math or find someone who can. Decisions should be made not for political reasons or for gut feelings. People's lives literally depend on finding a way out of the deepening economic bind. It's a noose tightening around their necks.

And yes, what of those plans for a secure retirement? They are now dreams come false.


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