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Thursday, April 29, 2004



Lingle threatens
to veto budget

Democrats are not sure they have
enough support for an override


Lawmakers and Gov. Linda Lingle are headed for a showdown tomorrow on the state's $3.6 billion budget.



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Lingle raised the stakes yesterday when she said that if the Legislature does not meet her demands for changes in the budget, she will veto it. Her deadline to veto the budget is tomorrow.

The Republican governor said the Democratic-controlled Legislature has to restore 45 federally funded positions cut from the budget, restore operational funding for the University of Hawaii medical school and halt a raid on funds from the Department of Commerce & Consumer Affairs, or she will reject the entire budget.

"The big issue is the compliance resolution fund (the DCCA special fund), but unless they are willing to address these serious issues, the less likely I am to be approving that budget, and I have made that clear to them," Lingle said.

The budget veto threat, however, would force lawmakers to either override the veto or negotiate with Lingle to answer her objections.

The chairmen of the House and Senate money committees, Rep. Dwight Takamine and Sen. Brian Taniguchi, have met on other portions of the budget but not on Lingle's calls for budget changes.

"We want to address the federally funded positions. ... We are beginning to talk, but there are elements of the (budget) bill we haven't worked out yet," said Taniguchi (D, Moiliili-Manoa).

The Lingle budget had included $2.5 million in start-up funds for the new UH medical school at Kakaako, but the Legislature changed the revenue source to a fund that has no money in it, Lingle said.

"They made it into a revolving fund that doesn't have anything in it to revolve yet," Lingle said.

She also warned that the Legislature dropped $250,000 to repair the Molokai irrigation system, and there will not be enough water for crops on Molokai this summer if money is not appropriated now.

Taniguchi agreed that the budget showdown will be tomorrow. All financial bills have to be finished by tomorrow evening, according to the Legislature's internal deadlines.

If Lingle does veto the budget, it would come on the heels of her veto of the bill that raids the DCCA's compliance resolution fund.

Legislators said yesterday they are not sure if they have the votes needed to override a veto.

Senate President Robert Bunda said the Democrats discussed a veto override yesterday, but there was not enough support to clearly indicate that an override would be successful.

Taniguchi said he also was not sure the Democrats would be able to muster the needed two-thirds vote, or a total of 17 votes.

Lingle has also threatened to veto a pay-raise bill for the Hawaii Government Employees Association if the Legislature does not trim the 8 percent pay raise awarded the 23,000 white-collar state and county workers.

"I have told legislators what I think we can afford, and unless they want to take other things out of the budget to pay for these things, we won't have a balanced budget," Lingle said.

"How much we pay the HGEA or the HSTA (Hawaii State Teachers Association) or the UPW (United Public Workers) is obviously interwoven with the budget bill they sent up to me," Lingle said.




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Council OK’s union pay raises


The City Council's Budget Committee approved $6.2 million in raises yesterday for white-collar workers represented by the Hawaii Government Employees Association.

Randy Perreira, HGEA deputy executive director, said: "We feel in fairness, having gone through the process, arbitration is final and binding. As a result, we feel there is an obligation by the employer to fund it."

The committee had two measures to consider: one to support and one to reject the raises.

Councilman Charles Djou introduced the resolution to reject the raises, and he was the lone dissenting vote to approve them.

"I recognize that all civil service employees work very hard, but we're in such a tight fiscal situation right now we cannot afford this," he said.

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