Cost shouldn’t be first question on Con Con
A task force has come up with estimates for the expense of a possible constitutional convention.
Discussion about a Constitutional Convention is being framed around cost when the question should be whether there is a broad need to alter the fundamental document that sets the principles, values and structures by which the state is governed.
While there's no great harm in estimating the expense of a convention, a task force's premature study is like choosing the color of a new car on a supposition that the old one isn't working.
Voters in November will be asked, "Shall there be a convention to propose a revision of or amendments to the Constitution?" It is a weighty proposition that citizens should give much consideration.
Advocates for a convention argue that in the 30 years since the last one, Hawaii has changed significantly and that the Constitution should be altered correspondingly. However, they need to identify how the document falls short in dealing with current issues and why they can't be handled without constitutional revisions. By the same token, those with competing views should explain why they believe the Constitution can stand as it is.
Lt. Gov. James Aiona, a convention proponent who wants to succeed Gov. Linda Lingle, assembled the task force, which looked at various plans for holding a convention. Costs ranged from $2.3 million to $11.1 million, based on the number of delegates and the site for a convention, among other factors.
The lower figure would allow for 25 delegates, a number too small for adequate representation of Hawaii's diverse constituency. Further, presenting cost options during an economic downturn could push support for the less expensive plan. Changing the Constitution shouldn't be done lightly or on the cheap.
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