State can’t afford to choose symbolism over savings
After nearly 30 years of living in the public eye -- as a Maui County Council member, mayor of Maui County, chairwoman of the Hawaii Republican Party and governor -- I have become used to having my words and actions discussed, analyzed, second-guessed and sometimes criticized by the public, members of my own and other political parties, and by the media.
And although I have always tried hard to do what I believed was in the best interest of my island, county, party or state, depending upon who I had been elected to serve, and then let the chips fall where they may, your editorial on June 22 touched on a subject so crucial to our state's future that I cannot just let the chips fall where they may.
In fact, none of us can afford to let the chips fall where they may when it comes to Hawaii's energy, economic and fiscal future. These issues are too important to trivialize in this fashion.
As reported in your article, when the hybrid bid came in over $5,000 more per year than a nonhybrid vehicle, and considering that my car averages around 400 miles a month, a decision was made to lease the less expensive SUV because I felt it wasn't fiscally sound for me to make a symbolic gesture that would cost the taxpayers more money.
Please keep in mind that we had been notified in late May by the Council on Revenues that we would receive nearly $1.7 billion less over our six-year fiscal planning horizon than previously estimated.
Had I selected the more expensive hybrid, I likely would have been criticized by Democrats in the Legislature, some members in my own party, your newspaper and other media, and many taxpayers for trying to make a symbolic point with the public's money.
In the end I made the same choice I believe most individuals and businesses would have made -- the least expensive choice.
We will continue to convert our state vehicle fleet to hybrids and other alternative vehicles when it makes sound financial sense to do so.
I have always done my best to keep my constituents as my highest priority, and I will continue doing my best to chart a secure economic and energy future for our state while respecting taxpayers and their own struggles to cope with a rising cost of living.
Governor of Hawaii