Star-Advertiser: ‘State Owes DHHL $18.4M More’ (11/29/15)

Judge’s ruling finds the department has been underfunded since at least 1992
By Rob Shikina
Star-Advertiser, 29 Nov. 2015

The state owes nearly $20 million to the Department of Hawaiian Home Lands for violating the state Constitution by failing to adequately fund the department for more than two decades, a state judge has ruled.

First Circuit Judge Jeannette Castagnetti issued her decision late Friday, saying that the state Legislature violated its constitutional duty “to appropriate sufficient sums to the Department of Hawaiian Home Lands for its administrative and operating budget.”

“This failure includes every fiscal year since at least 1992,” she wrote. “DHHL suffers from a lack of funding and staffing, which adversely affects beneficiaries of the Hawaiian Home Lands Trust.”

In her ruling, Castagnetti said the Legislature is obligated to appropriate more than $28 million to DHHL this fiscal year for its administrative and operating budget. This year, legislators have only appropriated $9.6 million.

The nonprofit Native Hawaiian Legal Corporation filed the suit in 2007 on behalf of six Native Hawaiians.  Continue reading