Dealing with an unsexy subject

Paying off debts is not a very sexy subject.

Witness news stories about the current session of the state Legislature. There have been a lot more column inches wasted on various gambling bills that will never pass and attempts to legalize marijuana than there have been about what the state is going to do about its unfunded pension and health care liabilities.

The governor proposed $100 million be set aside in the next budget to begin addressing those liabilities – but admitted it would take five times that amount for the next 30 years to tackle the problem.

Since the State of the State speech where the governor revealed his proposal and the depth of the problem, the silence has been deafening. This current $20 billion problem will grow to a $30 billion problem if left unaddressed.

As we wrote in an editorial right after the State of the State (“Funding the unfundable,” Jan. 27), Hawaii needs to set up a commission to recommend a solution to this massive problem.

We must stop making the same health care and pension promises to future state employees that have created this massive burden on our backs.

We must come up with a plan to start seriously funding what is owed.

The massive underfunding is a fast-growing cancer. Legislators and the administration must act now to stop the spread of this metastasis.

* Editorials reflect the opinion of the publisher.