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Capitol View

By Richard Borreca

Wednesday, March 10, 1999


Too bad this is not
an election year

OUT at Aloha Stadium, they are wrapping up counting the votes from the November election. At the Legislature there are scores of supporters still talking about what Linda Lingle would be doing if she had won.

Even Gov. Ben Cayetano's supporters feel a need to keep the election year hype going, talking about the programs for the entire state in terms of "Democratic Party programs."

But, it is time to call it quits. The election is over. No matter how many times they recount the tally, it is over, pau, finito, nada mas.

For the doubters in the crowd, here are some sure signs that the election is finished:

Don't Cry For Me, Waianae -- During the campaign for governor, First Lady Vicky Cayetano came close to tears relating the trauma of having GOP Sen. Sam Slom issue a press release saying he doubted property tax values would go down if the Cayetanos moved into his neighborhood. She said it was a "thinly veiled racist attack."

With the election behind us, however, state attorney general and fellow Democrat Margery Bronster can speculate that the reason voters in Waianae, a predominately Hawaiian community, had so many disqualified ballots was because of the area's "educational level."

Sen. Colleen Hanabusa, who represents and was educated in the area, complained and Bronster, after several months, apologized.

No one cried, because the election is over.

Take These Cards and Make a House -- Before the election, Cayetano tried to pump up the local economy by doubling the state construction budget to $1 billion.

But in January the value of Hawaii construction contracts awarded plunged 41 percent, according to a report by F.W. Dodge.

Some of that state money showed up in the 1998 construction figures, which show that contracts totaled $1.65 billion. But that was the election year.

We Need Students, Not Jocks -- Fearing an unbalanced budget, state legislators recently ordered the Department of Education back to math class.

They had to redo the school budget to show a 10 percent cut. The DOE showed that if athletic programs were eliminated, it would save 10 percent.

"I still want to know what happened to the $150 million budget surplus we were supposed to have last November," Gary Griffiths, Aiea High School's principal, asked.

We know what happened. There is no election this year.

Just Show Me The Money -- Last year Cayetano was talking surplus. In campaign speeches he said the state had up to $330 million in surplus. Public employees, hoping to finally get their agreed-to pay raise, endorsed Cayetano. Cayetano promised to give them the money.

IN the clear light of a non-election year, the figures don't seem so cheery.

Just yesterday the latest tax report showed that tax revenues were down 8 percent. The state's Council on Revenues last week signaled that it wasn't buying the election year story.

Last year Cayetano said the economy was so good he could restore budget cuts. This year the governor says the state should increase the taxes on expensive cars. He also wants to lower other taxes, but the Legislature just doesn't believe there is enough money in this non-election year to increase the budget.

The solution is obvious. If we want things to get better, we should have another election.



Richard Borreca reports on Hawaii's politics every Wednesday.
He can be reached by e-mail at rborreca@pixi.com




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