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The state pays millions of dollars a year to help Micronesians living in Hawaii.
It’s the result of an agreement that was signed by the federal government. Where is the federal money to help pay for it?
About one percent of Hawaii’s population is from Micronesia, a large number of islands in the south Pacific.
The state picks up a significant part of the tab for their health care, education and housing. The state doesn’t think that’s fair.
“The taxpayers in the state of Hawaii are being asked to pick up the tab, if you will, to pick up the cost as the result of federal legislation,” Governor Neil Abercrombie said.
There are up to 30,000 people from Micronesia living in Hawaii and Guam.
“They benefit from the educational and health services that are provided to them. And that’s the case. A lot of them do work and benefit a lot,” Micronesia Consul General Kandi Elieisar said.
As they should because the U.S. government signed an agreement with Micronesia to provide those benefits.
However between 2004 and 2010, Hawaii spent more than $52 million on public assistance benefits through the Department of Human Services alone.
Money also goes to the education of Micronesian students here.
“Folks do need a lot of support. We want to support them to the maximum extent. So it’s two fold. One – it’s us being better about doing what’s best for what we do with all kids in Hawaii in education. And then it’s also about us leveraging the resources across state departments,” Department of Education assistant superintendent Ronn Nozoe said.
The Micronesian Consul General believes the state could use some help.
“We would appreciate a more generous provision of federal funding to the states so that they can be able to meet this so called compact impact problems that we face or challenges that we face,” said Elieisar.
Negotiations between the state and the federal government continue.
- Public Law 108–188, 108th Congress, Compact of Free Association of 2003
To approve the Compact of Free Association, as amended, between the Government of the United States of America and the Government of the Federated States of Micronesia, and the Compact of Free Association, as amended, between the Government of the United States of America and the Government of the Republic of the Marshall Islands, and to appropriate funds to carry out the amended Compacts.
- H.R.912 — Restoring Medicaid for Compact of Free Association Migrants Act of 2013 (Introduced in House – IH) Sponsored by Rep. Colleen Hanabusa
To amend title IV of the Personal Responsibility and Work Opportunity Reconciliation Act of 1996 to restore Medicaid coverage for citizens of the Freely Associated States lawfully residing in the United States under the Compacts of Free Association between the Government of the United States and the Governments of the Federated States of Micronesia, the Republic of the Marshall Islands, and the Republic of Palau.
- H.R.1222 — Compact-Impact Aid Act of 2013 (Introduced in House – IH) Sponsored by Rep. Colleen Hanabusa
To amend the Compact of Free Association of 1985 to provide for adequate Compact-impact aid to affected States and territories, and for other purposes.