Cayetano slaps down
'They are going to have toBy Richard Borreca
wait a couple of years for
a new governor,' he says
If the Legislature doesn't want the new state prison to be privately built and operated, they had better find some other governor to sign the bill because Gov. Ben Cayetano says he won't do it.
"I cannot support a prison that is run by the state," he told reporters yesterday. "They will have to find some other governor to run this prison, if it is going to be a state-run prison."
Cayetano was reacting to the latest round of confusion in the Legislature about building a new prison.
First, the state House endorsed a privately operated prison, but that was removed by Rep. Dwight Takamine, finance chairman. House Speaker Calvin Say explained that the proposal was mistakenly deleted.
The House wants the prison built on a privately owned, isolated spot near Hilo on the Big Island.
The state Senate wants to authorize a privately run prison and it hasn't said where it should be built. The Senate also took the $6 million out of the budget that Cayetano had earmarked for the prison, saying it wasn't going to be spent in the next year.
Cayetano, however, insists that he will not approve another state-run prison because civil service laws and problems with prison staffing make it twice as expensive to run a state facility.
At the beginning of the year, Cayetano wanted the Legislature to approve a privately run mainland prison and even had some possible sites under consideration, but the Legislature refused to go along.
"If they are going to pass it (a state-run prison) they are going to have to wait a couple of years for a new governor, because I won't do it," said Cayetano who will be in office until 2002.
That sort of a delay would not displease Sen. Andy Levin, co-chairman of the Ways and Means Committee, who says the Big Island is not in agreement that a prison should be built there.
"For me it can be put off forever. At almost every site there is substantial opposition," he said. "Although the business community would welcome it, they have not been able to win over the Hawaiian community."
Levin added that while there is support for building another prison on the Big Island, there is an equal amount of opposition.
Sen. Carol Fukunaga, Ways and Means co-chairwoman, added that the issue can "be revisited."
Cayetano also charged that the Legislature was unable to move because of union pressure.
"I don't think there is any question that the strong lobbying by the UPW is starting to have an effect on people, but we all get elected to do what is right and not just what is right for one interest group," Cayetano said.
The United Public Workers union, which represents the prison workers, has opposed the Cayetano administration's efforts to turn the prisons over to private groups.
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