16 Sep 2004

Former Hawaii women's commission member shocked at budget cuts

6:22 am on 16 September 2004

Hawaii's first female governor has cut the budget of a women's commission, sparking resignations amid concerns that it may have to close.

The Commission on the Status of Women relies heavily on the government for financial support.

The governor, Linda Lingle, has halved the commission's budget, which will force the state agency to raise funds privately.

One of seven commissioners, Kalei Kanuha, resigned on Tuesday, along with the commission's executive director, Allicyn Tasaka.

Ms Kanuha says she was shocked at the governor's lack of support.

"By cutting the budget in half we can't even support a full time person. So with our expenses, and everything else, we're assuming we'll run out of money by probably March or April. So by running out of money and what that means is that essentially what that means is that there'll be no staffing, there'll be no programme money, and that the commission won't be able to function in any of its activities."

Kalei Kanuha says the governor's budget is an embarrassment for the state, and for the status of women, especially those who hold public office.