Senate rejects Anzai
The vote comes after a
by the Ways and Means panel
Bronster oustedBy Mike Yuen
The Senate's rejection of state Budget Director Earl Anzai came minutes after Attorney General Margery Bronster was rejected -- but without much debate.
Fifteen senators voted against Anzai, including veteran Ways and Means Co-Chairwoman Carol Fukunaga (D, Makiki).
Only 10, including first-year Ways and Means Co-Chairman Andrew Levin, voted for Anzai.
Fukunaga criticized Anzai for not following an attorney general's opinion that the budget can't be balanced by spending restrictions imposed by the governor.
Yesterday Anzai said he knew the Senate could very well reject him.
Anzai's acknowledgment yesterday came shortly after the Senate Ways and Means Committee approved his nomination. But it was far from a ringing endorsement.
In bringing Anzai up for a vote by her panel, Ways and Means Co-Chairwoman Carol Fukunaga (D, Makiki) remarked that the full Senate should "consider the merits of his nomination."
Only three committee members -- Co-Chairman Andrew Levin (D, Volcano), and Sens. Randy Iwase (D, Mililani) and Brian Taniguchi (D, Manoa) -- gave their unqualified support to Anzai.
Fukunaga and six others moved Anzai's nomination to the Senate floor with reservations. The others were Sens. Whitney Anderson (R, Kailua), Jan Yagi Buen (D, Waihee), Jonathan Chun (D, Lihue), David Ige (D, Newtown), Marshall Ige (D, Kaneohe) and Rod Tam (D, Pauoa).
The concerns with Anzai centered on his statement to the panel last week that he ignored or forgot about an attorney general's opinion saying spending restrictions shouldn't be used to balance the budget.
The administration restricts the spending of funds appropriated by the Legislature without telling lawmakers or the public, Tam complained.
Another complaint: that the administration was raiding "excessive earnings" of the state's and counties' retirement fund to balance the state's budget.
Vote on Anzai
Yes (10):Avery B. Chumbley (D, East Maui, North Kauai)
Suzanne Chun Oakland (D, Palama, Alewa Heights)
Lorraine R. Inouye (D, North Hilo, Kohala)
Randy Iwase (D, Mililani, Waipio Gentry)
Andrew Levin (D, Kau, Kona)
Matt Matsunaga (D, Waialae, Palolo)
Bob Nakata (D, Kaneohe, Kahuku, Heeia)
Norman Sakamoto (D, Moanalua, Salt Lake)
Joe Tanaka (D, Wailuku, Upcountry, Kahului)
Brian Taniguchi (D, Manoa, McCully).
No (15):Whitney Anderson (R, Kailua, Waimanalo)
Jan Yagi Buen (D, North/West Maui, Molokai, Lanai)
Robert Bunda (D, Wahiawa, North Shore)
Jonathan Chun (D, South Kauai, Niihau)
Carol Fukunaga (D, Tantalus-Makiki)
Colleen Hanabusa (D, Waianae, Maili, Makaha)
David Ige (D, Pearlridge, Pacific Palisades)
Marshall Ige (D, Kaneohe, Enchanted Lake)
Les Ihara Jr. (D, Kapahulu, Kaimuki, Waikiki)
Brian Kanno (D, Ewa Beach, Makakilo)
Cal Kawamoto (D, Waipahu, Pearl City)
David M. Matsuura (D, South Hilo, Puna)
Sam Slom (R, Kalama Valley, Aina Haina)
Rod Tam (D, Downtown, Nuuanu)
Norman Mizuguchi (D, Fort Shafter, Aiea).
But in defending his longtime political ally, Gov. Ben Cayetano asserted that Anzai's problems are "totally political."
"I think there are a few people who are doing things for political reasons, their own political reasons, and it's unfortunate because third parties get hurt," Cayetano said. "I would hope that things be done on the merits."
Anzai said he didn't know what was behind his troubles.
"I am concerned that a budget director would forget about a legal opinion maybe two years old that dealt specifically with his department on something as fundamental as how you formulate a budget," said Chun, an attorney.
But Iwase, also an attorney, said attorney general opinions don't have the force of law -- they're advisory.
A governor, Iwase added, should be given broad latitude in the selection of his Cabinet members, and senators should only reject nominees when there are "substantial, documented reasons."
"You are not selected to run the Budget and Finance Department because you are the Pillsbury doughboy and you can be huggable," Iwase added. "I'm not going to color my vote based on whether I like you or don't like you. That is not what the state of Hawaii expects from you. They expect you too not engage in politics and to vote your conscience."
Neither Iwase or Cayetano provided specifics of the politics that clouded Anzai's nomination.
Marshall Ige said he was concerned about the administration's proposal to raid $280 million of the retirement system's "excess earnings" over the next two fiscal years to pay for public workers' salary increases.
"If you're going to take from the retirement system, I might have some heartburn over that," Marshall Ige said.
Hawaii Revised Statutes