Hundreds rally for health and human service funding - Hawaii News Now - KGMB and KHNL

Hundreds rally for health and human service funding

Steve Tam Steve Tam
Senator Josh Green Senator Josh Green
Alfred Gomes (in blue shirt) Alfred Gomes (in blue shirt)
Alex Santiago Alex Santiago

By Jim Mendoza - bio | email 

HONOLULU (HawaiiNewsNow) - In a mixed and massive crowd of adults and children, some carrying signs, all wearing colorful shirts, we found Steve Tam and his story.

"Back last year around May my father-in-law had a stroke," he said.

Around the same time his father was diagnosed with Alzheimer's. .

Tam quit his job to care for both of them.

"It's really a tough situation," he said.

The tough task lawmakers face is finding money to fund health and human service programs to help clients and caregivers like Tam.

Many agencies were decimated by last year's budget cuts.

"I think you're going to have to look beyond the Rainy Day Fund," Sen. Josh Green said. "You're probably going to have to look at some part of the Hurricane Relief Fund which has $180 million and then look at whether or not taxes will be raised," he said.

Green wants tax hikes to be a last resort after fund money is exhausted.

The Gomes family hopes money is found somewhere and gets to the homeless shelter that's helping them.

"The shelter helped me a lot. It took me off the beach and gave me a roof over my head," Alfred Gomes said.

Members of a group called PHOCUSED organized the rally to urge lawmakers to stop the bleeding.

"We're not talking about a heavy lobbying practice. We're talking about people who just care about other people," PHOCUSED administrator Alex Santiago said.

A bill in the Senate calls for distributing some emergency fund money to "safety net" programs.

Many in the crowd don't know anything about the Rainy Day Fund. They just know hard times are raining down on them.

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