Hawaii Attorney General Doug Chin said the state would appeal a ruling regarding funding of the Department of Hawaiian Home Lands.

Three Native Hawaiian beneficiaries sued the state in 2007, alleging that it had inadequately funded DHHL. The department is tasked with placing qualified Hawaiians on their own land.

In March, 1st Circuit Court Judge Jeannette Castagnetti said that the state had to provide DHHL with “sufficient” money from the state’s general fund, though she acknowledged that the court could not order the Legislature and governor to do that.

Still, Gov. David Ige soon proposed and the Legislature soon approved more money for DHHL — $17.1 million for fiscal year 2015-2016 and $23.9 million for fiscal year 2016-2017.

Hawaii Attorney General Doug Chin.
Hawaii Attorney General Doug Chin. Nathan Eagle/Civil Beat

The AG’s office said in a press release Thursday that the legal appeal “does not impact these appropriations and it does not stop DHHL from spending this money.”

But the AG clearly wants another day in court.

The circuit court decision raised important policy and constitutional issues,” Chin said in a statement. “These included questions about separation of powers and questions about what expenses are appropriately included in DHHL’s administration and operating budget pursuant to the state Constitution. Some believe this year’s appropriation is too much, while others feel it is still not enough.”

Chin concluded: “A decision from the state Supreme Court should help provide more direction in future years, and may avoid more lawsuits down the road.”

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