Lingle rebuts critics of her speech
The governor defends her land policies and dealings with public employee unions
In an unusual tactic, Gov. Linda Lingle is defending her administration by offering a point-by-point rebuttal to legislators critical of her State of the State speech.
In a news release issued at 10:55 Tuesday night, Lingle's press office pointed to what were called "Top 10 inaccurate statements by Democrat legislators after Gov. Lingle's State of the State address."
The administration took issue with both Senate President Colleen Hanabusa and Sen. Roz Baker, Ways and Means chairwoman, who criticized Lingle's approach to dealing with the public employee unions.
The pair, in separate interviews after Lingle's speech on Monday, said the public unions should look for increases similar to the 9 percent and 11 percent raises given to the University of Hawaii Professional Assembly.
"This is comparing apples and oranges. The three public employee unions still negotiating with the state ... have a combined membership of 43,041 compared to the UHPA's 3,630," Lingle's release said. "It is obvious that the state cannot afford annual pay raises for 43,041 members in the amounts suggested by Senate President Hanabusa."
Baker (D, Honokohau-Makena) questioned if Lingle "is going to be providing leadership to make sure that our public employees are appropriately compensated."
Lingle shot back Tuesday night, saying the state has had "constructive negotiations."
"They have had open and honest dialogue in order to provide a fair increase to the employees while ensuring the final negotiated or arbitrated figure falls within the budget.
"(The) governor has also met with the county mayors, who have a role to play in these negotiations. She will continue to show her leadership in this very important area," the release said.
The administration's statement was harsher in reaction to criticism by Rep. Kirk Caldwell, the House Democratic leader.
"Its a bit like Rip Van Winkle politics to me. It's as if we woke up and we found out that the governor no longer supports the buying and selling of land in our state," Caldwell (D, Manoa) said in reaction to Lingle's statement that she wanted to move the state's economy away from land speculation.
In response Tuesday night, Lingle's release said Caldwell was misstating the issue.
"The fairy-tale metaphor creates a patently false statement," the Lingle release said. "Land will continue to be bought and sold. But what is fundamental to the governor's proposal is that the state's future wealth and well-being should not be dependent upon an overreliance on land development, and the flipping of real estate."
Hanabusa (D, Nanakuli-Makua) also criticized Lingle's anti-land speculation stance, saying that "I am still unclear as to what exactly the governor meant and what she intends to do."
Lingle's response said that the details were spelled out in a booklet that accompanied her speech.
"These include incentives for private landowners to keep their land in agriculture for the foreseeable future; allowing for the development of rural towns and districts; establishing 11 specific criteria for county land planning; tightening requirements aimed at stopping fake farms and more," the release said.
The release added that Lingle wants to develop land at Kalaeloa "preserving the opportunity to responsibly develop the last remaining large tract of land on Oahu."