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Friday, January 21, 2000

Hawaii State Seal

His top speech
keeps governor
up at night

Lawmakers and voters can
only guess, and hope, what
Cayetano will say in the
State of the State

By Richard Borreca


Sunday night, while you are getting ready for bed, Gov. Ben Cayetano will likely be at work at the state Capitol, making final revisions to his most important speech of the year, the State of the State address.

Cayetano likes to do much of the work on the speech himself, said press secretary Kathleen Racuya-Markrich.

Legislature 2000 The process, she says, starts with Cayetano, who stakes out several broad themes and then lets his department heads comment on the ideas.

"It marinates," she said. "He knows what he wants to say. He just puts it together."

Department heads and other officials check the facts and tie loose ends. Then, the night before the speech, Cayetano starts to practice it. Another round of editing is triggered by the rehearsal.

The speech will be given at 10 a.m. Monday at the Capitol.

It will be broadcast live on the four network TV stations and the Internet at

What he will say is one of the state's top secrets, but the broad outlines already have been marked.

Cayetano will touch on civil service reform, the need to prepare for a high-tech future, and educational reform in general.

Many at the Legislature, however, have their own wish list of what they would like to hear.

State Sen. Randy Iwase, one of Cayetano's political allies, says the governor should carefully explain both past and present plans and directions.

"Because he is in his final term, it is important to explain what he has been trying to do and how it fits into his final years," Iwase said. "He has to show us where he is heading and how he is to get there."

That call to arms was seconded by Democratic state Rep. Mark Takai.

"I want to hear our governor inspire us," he said.

"Hopefully we can hear some positive, uplifting ideas. I would like a message that the average citizen can relate to," he said.

One of Takai's Democratic colleagues, Rep. Dennis Arakaki, worried that Cayetano, a self-described social liberal, will give a conservative speech.

"He has not been a progressive since A+ (the after-school program started by Cayetano when he was lieutenant governor). He has been a fiscal conservative.

"I just want him to speak more like a Democrat," Arakaki said.

In the Senate, Republican Sam Slom thought it was time for Cayetano to give a more reality-based speech.

According to Slom, Cayetano should talk about making "far-reaching and major structural changes."

"He should reflect the economic reality that for most people things haven't turned around," he said.

Almost everyone surveyed, however, also mentioned that the governor should talk about education.

Iwase said he hoped Cayetano would restore all education budget cuts.

Sen. Carol Fukunaga, co-chairwoman of the Ways and Means Committee, said she thought Cayetano should say Hawaii would prepare students and citizens for high-tech jobs now.

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