Wednesday, October 17, 2001

Hawaii State Seal

Senate Republicans want
tax cut, school funds

By Richard Borreca

If the state is going to spend hundreds of millions in new money to fix public schools, the Republicans in the state Senate plan to push for the money to be given directly to the state's 279 school principals.

At a Capitol news conference yesterday, the Senate's three GOP members called on the Legislature to expand the construction program to permit school principals to handle appropriations.

But Senate President Robert Bunda (D, Wahiawa, North Shore) said there were questions with allowing principals to spend the money and that some principals had said they were not prepared to authorize construction contracts.

"We have heard from them and they are saying they don't have the expertise for it," Bunda said.

Republican senators Sam Slom, Bob Hogue and Fred Hemmings also called for increased tax breaks including a excise tax holiday and extended unemployment benefits.

Slom argued that reducing taxes would spur Hawaii's economy.

"The simple thing is that government does have those taxes, government gets those taxes from us and the people in business, if the people don't continue to work then the government gets nothing at all," Slom said.

Bunda countered that the issue of tax breaks or a tax holiday raises questions about how much money the state has available for tax reductions.

And former Republican state senator D.G. Anderson, who is considering a run for governor as a Democrat, is urging the Legislature to give massive tax breaks and waive state rents and leases in order to help the local economy.

He also suggested that the state suspend for a short period the requirement that the state carry a balanced budget.

Bunda rejected Anderson's ideas, calling them "ideas designed to help his businesses," not the state.

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