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Grassroot Testimony on Closed Meetings for the ERS Board

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April 7, 2015

 

To: House Committee on Finance

Rep. Sylvia Luke, Chair

Rep. Scott Nishimoto, Vice Chair

 

From: Grassroot Institute of Hawaii

President Keli’i Akina, Ph.D.

 

RE: SB 1208 — RELATING TO THE EMPLOYEES’ RETIREMENT SYSTEM

 

Dear Chair and Committee Members:

The Grassroot Institute of Hawaii would like to offer its comments on SB 1208, which would authorize the Board of Trustees of the Employees’ Retirement System to hold meetings closed to the public to discuss certain matters.

Given the state of Hawaii’s unfunded liabilities and their importance to the state’s economic future, we have grave concerns about any initiative that would allow the Board of Trustees to carry out its activities in secret. Transparency in the decision making process of the Board is the only way to ensure that the best interests of both Hawaii’s public employees and taxpayers are taken into account.

In order to create an exception to existing Sunshine law for this particular Board, there should be a significant and compelling interest to justify it. To do otherwise would be to foster an atmosphere conducive to the kind of back-room deal-making that the law is intended to prevent.

Thank you for the opportunity to submit our comments.

Sincerely,

Keli’i Akina, Ph.D.

President, Grassroot Institute of Hawaii

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