Students protest social service budget cuts

By Tim Sakahara - bio | email

HONOLULU (HawaiiNewsNow) - The cuts are coming. In all 41 social service programs will have their government funding cut off. It's all part of the effort to fill the $844 million state budget gap and some of the recipients of those programs aren't going out without making some noise.

If students were paid for their enthusiasm there would be plenty of money to go around but instead...

"Well with the cuts our budget will look like zero.  We're slated to have 100 percent of our funding cut," said Johnny Manriquez, About Face Program Manager.

That's a $6 million hit for the About Face programs which teach low income kids life skills.

"Taught me how to balance my checkbook, how to make checking accounts and time sheets and all the important things in a job," said Kanahele Montizor, high school graduate from Molokai who used the About Face services.

The kids even get a real paycheck.  Their salary is $10 for every session they attend. That can be up to $300 every four months.

"We have this training for free and I know that I myself wouldn't have gotten it if it cost anything," said Caitlin Delicata-Alvarado, James Campbell High School student.

"I mean our parents are so busy and we need teachers that are there to help us," said Solove Naufahu, Waianae High School Sophomore.

While the students learn to balance their budgets they are now learning the state must do the same and no one wants their money taken.

"Where would you cut?"

"Honestly I don't know," Montizor responded.

"So I know that this program shouldn't be cut I just don't know what other programs should be," said Delicata-Alvarado.

The Department of Human Services has a $116 million budget deficit.  Things like welfare and job readiness will still get money because of federal guidelines.  But the 41 programs losing funding include pregnancy prevention, literacy development and domestic violence services.  Some of the organizations losing funding include Big Brothers Big Sisters; Boys & Girls Clubs and Girl Scouts of Hawaii

"This is the last place where they should cut the money from," said Kelsey Crabbedesoto, Waianae High School student.

Despite student protests the cuts are scheduled to take effect March 31.

If these students aren't able to change the minds of the governor and lawmakers the funding for their program will be completely cut starting march 31.

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