Latest Articles

  • Honolulu Police Want to Keep Misconduct Away From Public Scrutiny

    · By Nick Grube

    Legislation is advancing that would require full disclosure about officers who get suspended for misconduct.

  • Sizing Up Our State Pension Program

    · By

    Anyone who has ever worked for the government in Hawaii or pays taxes here has a stake in the Hawaii Employees’ Retirement System. The pension program covers more than 108,000 current and former state employees.

    As of February 2010, the program held roughly $10.3 billion in assets but was 64.6 percent funded. The total unfunded liability was $6.2 billion. States across the country are facing similar challenges in funding state workers’ retirement plans amid budget cuts.

    The Pew Research Center recently cited Hawaii’s pension program as one with “serious concerns.” In May, a Northwestern study predicted that Hawaii’s pension plan would run out of money by 2020. Could this all be true? Civil Beat sat down with Rep. Karl Rhoads, chair of the Labor and Public Employee Committee. Rep. Rhoads provided an inside look at some of the biggest challenges facing the program – and the taxpayers – today. Here are excerpts from the conversation:

    CIVIL BEAT: What have been some of the big legislative issues regarding Hawaii’s Employee Retirement System (ERS)?

    REP. KARL RHOADS: It’s probably obvious, but the big issue has been the funding hole, and it’s been that way for quite some time. The temptation is – and not just in Hawaii, but everywhere – that we have this pile of money just sitting there that is committed. But it’s not actually being spent right now because it’s for retirement. The temptation is to take it for something else and say, “Oh, we’ll just pay it back later.”