Study pegs ConCon cost at up to $11.1M
A report says that the cost could be as little as $2.3 million
A possible state Constitutional Convention could cost between $2.3 million and $11.1 million, according to a new report released yesterday.
The study was prepared by a task force appointed by Lt. Gov. James "Duke" Aiona, who supports holding a ConCon. The task force held seven meetings over a two-month period to review various plans.
Aiona said the costs vary by how many delegates are elected to the convention and where the convention is held. Also affecting the cost are the convention's length and the cost of staff and a public information program.
For instance, Aiona said, if the convention has 25 delegates and works rent-free out of state facilities such as the state Capitol, the cost would be in the $2 million range.
But, he added, if the plan includes room for 102 delegates such as the 1978 ConCon and is forced to lease space at something like the Hawai'i Convention Center, the cost could soar to more than $11 million.
"The bottom line is a ConCon is the people's convention. I trust the people of our state to make the best decision for Hawaii's future," Aiona said.
Senate Democratic leader Sen. Gary Hooser (D, Kauai-Niihau), a member of the task force, dismissed the idea of a convention with 25 delegates, saying it was too small.
Hooser said he thought the question of cost was not adequately explored by the task force, and he would estimate the cost of a ConCon at $20 million.
"This report significantly underestimates, on both sides of the spectrum, the projected costs of holding a Constitutional Convention," Hooser said.
Voters in the November election will be asked whether they approve of holding a convention to change the state Constitution. If the convention is approved, next year's Legislature will set the rules and the budget.
The last ConCon was held in 1978 and had a budget of $2.5 million, although the entire amount was not spent, according to the ConCon records. The election of delegates was held on May 20, 1978, and the proposed constitutional amendments were submitted to the voters in the fall 1978 election.
Delegates were paid $1,000 a month for a set period of four months. The convention was held in the former downtown federal building.