Rep. Dwight Takamine is trying to help the Hawaii County Economic Opportunity Council (HCEOC) in getting the Lingle administration to release funds for their transportation program. He sent out a news release yesterday explaining that he has written to Georgina Kawamura, Director of the Department of Budget and Finance, reminding them that the legislature appropriated $227,651 in 2007 for this needy program.
On the Big Island, public transportation does not provide services off the highway. HCEOC operates a transportation program that helps the low-income elderly, the disabled, dialysis patients, and low-income pre-school children with transportation needs.
To date, the administration has released $100,000 of the total amount, and this is creating such a hardship that the program is in jeopardy. The director of the Council has been working at three-quarters salary since February and may be forced to start layoffs.
“As House Finance Chair during the economic crisis of the 1990's and post September 11, I understand the hard decisions that need to be made when faced with an economic downturn," said Rep. Takamine. “But I believe we should always look out for the most vulnerable of our citizens. HCEOC acts as the lifeline for these people, and we need to support their efforts."