THE SENATE

S.C.R. NO.

127

TWENTY-FIRST LEGISLATURE, 2002

S.D. 1

STATE OF HAWAII

 
   


SENATE CONCURRENT

RESOLUTION

 

urging adequate financial impact assistance for providing services to citizens of the freely associated states who reside in the state of hawaii.

 

WHEREAS, the Compact of Free Association is an agreement established in 1986 between the United States and the Federated States of Micronesia and the Republic of the Marshall Islands, and in 1994 with the Republic of Palau; and

WHEREAS, under the Compact, the United States provides direct economic assistance, federal services, and military protection to these nations, in exchange for defense rights; and

WHEREAS, the U.S. State Department should consider the impact of Freely Associated States citizens on Hawaii during this year’s renegotiation of the compacts; and

WHEREAS, citizens of these Freely Associated States (FAS) are also allowed to freely enter the United States without a visa or other immigration requirements; and

WHEREAS, drawn by the promise of better medical care and a better education for their children, over 6,000 Freely Associated States citizens have migrated to and are currently residing in Hawaii; and

WHEREAS, the Compact’s enabling legislation authorizes federal compensation for impact costs incurred by United States areas, including Hawaii; and

WHEREAS, the 1996 federal welfare reform act cut off access to federal welfare and medical programs forcing citizens of these Freely Associated States to rely on state aid; and

WHEREAS, the cost of supporting FAS citizens, largely in healthcare and education, was $86 million between 1996 and 2000; and

WHEREAS, FAS students have higher costs than other students due to poor language and other skills; and

WHEREAS, due to FAS students entering and leaving school a few times each year their integration into the school system difficult; and

WHEREAS, since the Compact went into effect in 1986 until 2001, the State spent over $64 million to educate FAS citizens and their children in our public schools, $10 million in 2000 alone; and

WHEREAS, FAS citizens continue to have a fast-growing impact on our public school system; and

WHEREAS, last year, the number of FAS students in our primary and secondary public schools increased by 28%, resulting in costs to the State of over $13 million for the academic year, bringing the total cost since 1988 to about $78 million; and

WHEREAS, during the academic school year 2001-2002, the University of Hawaii lost over $1.2 million in tuition revenue as a result of students from the Federated States of Micronesia, the Republic of the Marshall Islands, and the Republic of Palau paying resident rather than non-resident tuition; and

WHEREAS, inadequate and delayed federal compensation to Hawaii’s education system will be at a cost to our own children, and contributes to Hawaii being substantially below many other states in per pupil expenditures for its public school children in kindergarten through 12th grade; and

WHEREAS, state Medicaid payments for FAS citizens from 1998 to 2001 totaled $12.4 million; and

WHEREAS, the financial stability and viability of private hospitals and medical providers is threatened by staggering debts and write-offs resulting from medical services to FAS citizens, in spite of state Medicaid reimbursements; and

WHEREAS, the Queen’s Medical Center alone has incurred operating losses of $16 million between 1995 and 1999, and is owed over $11 million by Compact of FAS nations; and

WHEREAS, community health centers estimate an annual cost of $420,000 for services to FAS residents; and

WHEREAS, the Department of Health has also been significantly impacted by the cost of public health services to FAS immigrants with $967,000 spent on screening vaccination and treatment of communicable diseases and $190,000 spent for immunization and outreach by public health nurses; and

WHEREAS, FAS citizens may face unfair criticism and refusal of medical services from medical providers; and

WHEREAS, inadequate and delayed federal compensation threaten to overwhelm Hawaii’s health care systems, leading to potential cutbacks in services and personnel that would impact all of Hawaii’s citizens; and

WHEREAS, it is imperative that Hawaii be granted immediate and substantial federal assistance to meet these mounting costs; and

WHEREAS, Guam has been asking for – and receiving – financial impact assistance for the last ten years; and

WHEREAS, the fact that Micronesians should qualify for federal benefits, while residing in Hawaii and the rest of the United States, can best be summed up by the resolution which was passed on September 9, 2001, in Washington, D.C., by a national group called Grassroots Organizing for Welfare Leadership supporting the insertion of language in all federal welfare, food, and housing legislation because Micronesians are eligible for these and other benefits as "qualified non-immigrants" residing in the United States; and

WHEREAS, the United States government is not owning up to its responsibility for what the United States did to the Micronesian people by refusing them food stamps and other federal benefits when they come to Hawaii and the rest of United States seeking help; and

WHEREAS, the excuse being used by the U.S. government to deny any aid to the Micronesians in the U.S. is the word "nonimmigrant" used in the Compact of Free Association to describe Micronesians who move to Hawaii and the U.S.; and

WHEREAS, on Dec. 7, 1993, then President Bill Clinton formed an Advisory Committee on Human Radiation Experiments which documented human radiation experiments; and

WHEREAS, based on some of these documents, researchers indicate that all of Micronesia was affected, not just the Marshall Islands; and

WHEREAS, it is the intent of this Resolution to encourage the responsible entities to implement the provisions of the Compact of Freely Associated States, which authorizes compact impact funds to be made available to states that welcome and provide services to the people of the Federated States of Micronesia, Republic of the Marshall Islands, and Republic of Palau, because most of the FAS citizens that come to Hawaii do so for medical problems related the United States' military testing of nuclear bombs; and

WHEREAS, Micronesians are recruited to serve in the U.S. military and 'aliens' are not similarly recruited into the U.S. military; now, therefore,

BE IT RESOLVED by the Senate of the Twenty-First Legislature of the State of Hawaii, Regular Session of 2002, the House of Representatives concurring, that the Bush Administration and the U.S. Congress are requested to appropriate adequate financial impact assistance for health, education, and other social services for Hawaii’s Freely Associated States citizens; and

BE IT FURTHER RESOLVED that the Bush Administration and the U.S. Congress are requested to insert language in all federal welfare, food, and housing legislation which says that Micronesians are eligible for federal food stamps, welfare, public housing, and other federal benefits as "qualified nonimmigrants" residing in the United States; and

BE IT FURTHER RESOLVED that the Bush Administration and the U.S. Congress are requested to restore FAS citizens' eligibility for federal public benefits, such as Medicaid, Medicare, and food stamps; and

BE IT FURTHER RESOLVED that Hawaii’s congressional delegates are requested to assure financial reimbursements, through the establishment of a trust, escrow, or set-aside account, to the State of Hawaii for educational, medical, and social services and to Hawaii’s private medical providers who have provided services to Freely Associated States citizens; and

BE IT FURTHER RESOLVED that certified copies of this Concurrent Resolution be transmitted to the President of the United States, United States State Department, President of the United States Senate, Speaker of the United States House of Representatives, members of Hawaii’s congressional delegation, Governor, Attorney General, Superintendent of Education, Director of Health, Director of Agriculture, Director of Human Services, Grassroots Organizing for Welfare Leadership, Micronesians United, United Church of Christ, Hawaii Conference of Churches, United Methodist Church of Honolulu, national negotiating teams of the Compact of Free Association, and Presidents and Hawaii Consulates of the Federated States of Micronesia, Republic of the Marshall Islands, and Republic of Palau.

     

Report Title:

Federal Impact Assistance for Costs of FAS' Hawaii Residents