State wants more federal funds to pay for Micronesians

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.

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