`Ano`ai kakou… In 2006, Senate Bill 2948 established the amount of interim revenue to be transferred to the OHA from the public land trust, each fiscal year beginning with fiscal year 2005-2006, at $15,100,000.
While I was not opposed to the $15,100,000 that was negotiated, I did have serious concerns about how the amounts were calculated. I also questioned whether OHA’s negotiation team considered all of the facts and figures that were available to come up with a fair and justifiable amount. The last discussion that I am aware of was in December 2005, when our attorney told us that the state owed a past due amount between $17-$30 million.
Despite my inquires, I have never gotten a satisfactory answer on how the final $15.1 million figure was calculated nor why this amount is lower than the $17-$30 million range that was discussed. I did receive bits-and-pieces of information from the negotiation team from time-to-time. However, even very important information, such as the calculations and figures compiled by OHA’s accountant in the past, had changed over the years and I questioned whether they were even considered. There also did not appear to be a clear formula by which the negotiators calculated the amounts owed or even the future payments to be paid to OHA.
At no time was I ever privy to the formula which the negotiation team used to calculate the settlement with the Governor’s office, nor was I given any real numbers that showed exactly how the team had arrived at the numbers that they were suggesting. Much of the specific details of the negotiations were kept a closely guarded secret.
On February 1, 2006, the State House Committee on Hawaiian Affairs had a hearing on Senate Bill 2948. During the questions and answers period, committee members asked the State Attorney General about where the revenue would come from. The AG replied that they were looking at receipts from the airport shops, the University of Hawaii Bookstore, U.H. parking, etc. State Representative Ezra Kanoho asked if those sources were included in the $15.1 million and the answer was “yes.” This was confusing since those revenues have been in dispute with the state since the Heely case. This begged the question – Was the state now settling a part of the Heely case with this settlement?
By the time I found out that the negotiating team and the Governor’s office had come up with a deal, it was too late for me to express my other concerns. For example:
- By what method was the past due amounts determined to be $17-$30 Million?
- Was inflation factored into the equation?
- Did they consider the fact that the state has been re-negotiating leases every year and, consequently, the revenue stream is now much higher? The $15.1 million figure goes way back to 1995.
- What about the interest that is owed to OHA on the unpaid amounts?
I have always felt that our negotiating team was too secretive about how they came up with the final $15.1 million figure. I also haven’t heard a convincing argument that justifies the amount. It is critical that we revisit this issue and finally convince the state to give OHA and its beneficiaries a fair share of the ceded land revenue. As the past OHA Chair I did ask Governor Ige to reconvene the taskforce of 2016 to resolve the unpaid debt to OHA but as of this date I’ve had no response. Aloha Ke Akua.