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by Pearl Hahn 

We need real stimulus. Yet, we keep getting swindled. Instead of providing relief to struggling families, our elected leaders chose to bail out foreign and domestic banks whose poor decisions should have led to their ultimate demise, and passed a stimulus which is taking a devastating toll on the nation.

Back in October, the head of President Obama’s Council of Economic Advisers admitted that the stimulus is failing to stave off growing unemployment. The ruse of its supposed success went on for quite a while until ABC News revealed that jobs posted on Recovery.gov were “saved” or “created” in non-existent districts. In Hawaii alone there were four phantom Congressional districts assigned a total of $45,639,408.

Why are we spending real taxpayer dollars on futile ventures? A real stimulus should include a provision for eliminating government jobs of which there are too many and costing too much . On the Big Island, the County Council is examining 193 vacant positions to see which ones can be eliminated. Councilman Dominic Yagong of Hamakua says, “It’s a no-brainer. We need to unfund these vacant positions to deal with the budget deficit.”

This alone would save Hawaii County up to $6 million. Yagong has also suggested employee furloughs, pay cuts, selling excess motor vehicles, and delaying county contributions to the employee retirement fund.

The county has 2,717 employees who account for 70 percent of the budget. Policemen and firefighters are slated to get a 5% salary increase worth $3.7 million next year. With the state facing a $2 billion budget shortfall and Hawaii County facing a $100 million shortfall, every cost-cutting idea must be seriously considered for implementation.