DENNIS ODA / DODA@STARBULLETIN.COM
Gov. Linda Lingle delivered her sixth State of the State speech at the state Capitol yesterday, flanked by Senate President Colleen Hanabusa, left, House Speaker Calvin Say and Lt. Gov. Duke Aiona.
State of the State talk astounds
» Turtle Bay proposal startles owners
» Turtle Bay plan gets community OK
» Lingle's partnership with feds would tap clean fuel
» Text of the State of the State Address
Gov. Linda Lingle went to the state Legislature yesterday bearing surprises.
First she startled lawmakers with a suggestion that the state should find some way to buy the 850-acre Turtle Bay Resort on Oahu's North Shore.
Gov. Linda Lingle outlined some surprising proposals yesterday in her State of the State address before state legislators at the state Capitol:|
» TURTLE BAY | Buy the 850-acre Turtle Bay Resort on Oahu's North Shore.
» RENEWABLE ENERGY | Work with the U.S. Department of Energy to accelerate development of renewable energy sources such as wind, wave and solar power in the islands.
» EDUCATION | Create "creative academies" in the public schools so students can "focus on animation, digital media, game development and writing and publishing."
Then the governor noted her future political future, saying: "Today is the first day of the rest of my administration." Democrats speculated that Lingle was pondering running for another political office.
Calling the Turtle Bay proposal a "once -in -a -generation chance," Lingle acknowledged that she didn't have a specific plan, but proposed "a working group to explore options and develop an action plan to make sure that this property stays in public hands."
The idea immediately brought questions from the legislators sitting in the House chamber of the state Capitol.
Senate President Colleen Hanabusa praised Lingle's reasons for the purchase, but wanted Lingle to show her the money. "We've got only so much resources and we've got only so much land. We're not going to be able to save everything.
"What about the neighbor islands? We are a state. We've heard of Big Island areas where they want to preserve," Hanabusa (D, Nanakuli-Makua) said.
Rep. Kirk Caldwell, House Democratic leader, said Lingle's heart was in the right place, but cautioned that the state could not afford to buy everything it wanted.
"I think she's really stretching, and, again, in a declining economy and tight revenue. It's all a matter of, where do we find the funds, or (do we) issue bonds and then we're mortgaging the future?
"It's very ambitious. I don't see a problem with that. We all should dream big and be ambitious. But at the end of the day something has to drop out," Caldwell (D, Manoa) said.
Rep. Marcus Oshiro (D, Wahiawa-Poamoho) called her idea "one of the boldest proposals" in a long time that will be considered equally among the other requests.
Lingle also surprised lawmakers by touching briefly on her own political future.
"Since my re-election in late 2006, people have continued to ask me -- and journalists have written about -- which office I will run for next," Lingle said.
The governor then said she wanted to encourage personal responsibility, transform the economy, promote energy independence, preserve cultural and natural resources and enhance the overall quality of life.
DENNIS ODA / DODA@STARBULLETIN.COM
After Gov. Linda Lingle delivered her sixth State of the State address in the House Chamber, she answered questions from the media in her executive chambers.
While Lingle declined to specify what she meant, Democratic leaders, however, interpreted the speech to mean Lingle was ready to run for another office.
"I thought there would be an answer," said Hanabusa (D, Nanakuli-Makua).
"The fact that she raised it is an interesting topic. It means that it is something on her mind. To raise it and not answer it means that she is probably speculating, she is probably asking for the public to now give feedback and say, 'You know you can't leave,' or 'You should leave,'" Hanabusa said.
Speaker of the House Calvin Say also said he thought Lingle was saying she will be back.
"She was saying to herself that she may be the governor, but 'If I do a great job, I may be running for another office,'" Say said.
Although a strong Democrat, Say (D, St. Louis Heights-Wilhelmina Rise-Palolo Valley) said Republican Lingle has a future.
When asked why she brought up the subject of her political future, Lingle told reporters that she didn't want the public imagining that she was "sitting around thinking about what I am going to run for next."
"Whether I do anything after I am done being governor is a completely separate issue. It is not something I sit around and think about.
"If you look at my campaign spending reports, you know I didn't raise any money since the last election," Lingle said.
There has been political speculation that Lingle would run for either the U.S. Senate or House in 2010, when her second gubernatorial term ends. Hawaii's senior U.S. Sen. Dan Inouye has already said he would run for re-election in 2010.
WHAT THE GOVERNOR WANTS TO DO
Here are some of the details in the package of more than 180 proposals Gov. Linda Lingle is asking the Legislature to approve:
» Discourage "gentleman" farms by requiring proof of farming revenues before allowing the construction of residential structures on agriculturally designated lands.
» Increase Hawaiian Home Lands farm and ranch loans to $200,000 from $50,000.
» Require family members to report instances of child abuse and or neglect.
» Require a follow-up visit by professional child care welfare staff for children reported as abused or neglected.
» Add $25 million to the rental housing trust fund for the construction of affordable rental projects and add $25 million in bond sales to the dwelling unit revolving fund .
» Allow affordable home construction along the Leeward Coast to claim up to $75 million in tax credits that originally were set aside for the Ko Olina resort project.
» Cap noneconomic damages in medical malpractice cases at $250,000 by putting limits on attorney fees and requiring damages to be allocated based on amount of negligence.
» Require all kindergarten-to-grade 5 public school students to get a minimum of 45 minutes per day of physical education. Those in grades 6 to 12 would get one hour.
» Send to the voters a proposed constitutional amendment allowing voters to decide whether to establish local school boards.
» Decrease the cell phone tax to 43 cents a month from 66 cents.