OHA Submits Modified Bill to Resolve Past-Due Claims

January 22, 2010, 9:31 AM HST · Updated January 22, 3:40 PM
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The Office of Hawaiian Affairs will submit a bill for introduction in the current session of the State Legislature that will again seek to have the State retire the $200 million debt OHA officials say resulted from Public Land Trust revenues unpaid from 1978 to 2010.

If enacted, the legislation will establish the debt at $200 million and provide for annual payments of at least $30 million beginning July 1, 2015 until the debt is paid. The bill would also require the State to pay interest to OHA beginning July 1, 2010.

The delay in payment of the debt is OHA’s recognition of the State’s presently dire financial circumstances. However, the OHA Board of Trustees has expressed belief that the State’s economy will be on its way to recovery within 3 to 5 years and the State will be well able to begin retiring the debt.

OHA also notes that by 2015 the State’s obligation to pay $30 million annually into the Hawaiian Home Lands Trust Fund under Act 14 of the 1995 Special Legislative Session will end.

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Speaking on behalf of the OHA Board of Trustees, Chief Executive Officer Clyde Nämu‘o stated, “We recognize these aren’t the best of times for the State budget but if OHA and the State can strike an agreement that would allow the State to make good on its obligation when the economy improves, we believe this would work toward the benefit of Native Hawaiians and all of Hawai‘i.”

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