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Dear Editor,

I commend Senator Togiola for his lone vote against the ASGERF funding bill. He’s right, the new administration should “have time to breathe” before being asked to approve something as consequential and as permanent as this bill. But more important than the Governor or Lt. G are the folks who would be impacted the most by this legislation – the very employees who would be required to hand over more of their hard-earned money.

And it’s not just ASG employees; you’re affected here too, Private Sector. Who else do you think is going to pay for the extra percentages the government would be required to kick in to help cover the ASGERF’s unfunded liability?

And to the senator’s point about stretched paychecks…well, he’s right again. I can only imagine the little guy who currently sees a 2% wage tax on his pay stub, now has to watch his 3% employee contribution jump to 5%. Essentially paying an overall tax of 7%.

And for what? Will the increases lead to larger retirement checks in the future for the employee? No, it’s to pay for an unfunded liability that exists today – a deficit that may have had come about because “investment returns dropped”? While there’s always uncertainty in the marketplace, there is also such a thing as bad investment management. ASG employees and taxpayers both deserve to know that the fund is in prudent hands, and that they’re not being asked to pay more because of poor investment decisions.

Now I’aulualo testified that ASEDA repaid ASGERF for the $17 million dollars lent out to ASTCA for the Hawaiki cable. The problem I have is that all three of these alphabet organizations are all part of the same umbrella entity we know as the ASG. It just sounds like a bit of a shell game where the liability just ended up on a different balance sheet, but in-house.

I may be wrong. But between all of these bonds and loans the ASG as a whole has made in the past, don’t we deserve to know how well of a position the government is in paying all of them back before having to cough up more of our money? Obviously, there’s not gonna be any help on that front from the Hawaiki cable until they find a buyer for its 200 gigs of bandwidth.

Good luck.

I am not betting against the ASG out of spite, and I definitely believe that employees should contribute more when they have to.

The problem I have is that there is a history of municipalities across the U.S. (i.e. Chicago, Puerto Rico) who have taken their respective government retirement funds for a ride to pay for other things. It’s that type of mismanagement that resulted in a level of unsustainable debt, which in the case of Puerto Rico, led to their government having to declare bankruptcy.

Like COVID-19, that’s not the type of problem we want arriving on our shores. If this bill is truly worthy of its intent, then all parties involved could afford a month or two making the case to people it will affect the most. 

Talifaitasi Satele