Con Con could cost up to $41M
A legislative study estimates a low of $6.4 million
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A state legislative agency and the Lieutenant Governor's Office differ vastly on what the costs of a Constitutional Convention would be.
The Legislative Reference Bureau said yesterday that a Con Con would cost anywhere from $6.4 million to $41.7 million.
The figures differ from a report released Aug. 1 by Lt. Gov. James Aiona's task force, which estimated the cost from $2.3 million to $11.1 million.
In the November general election, Hawaii voters will vote on whether to hold a convention to propose changes to the state Constitution.
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A study by the Legislative Reference Bureau released yesterday estimates that a Constitutional Convention would cost anywhere from $6.4 million to $41.7 million.
The range differs vastly from a report released Aug. 1 by an 11-member task force appointed by Lt. Gov. James Aiona. That report estimated the cost ranging from $2.3 million to $11.1 million.
Hawaii voters will have to decide on which set of figures to use when voting this November for or against holding a Constitutional Convention. (If voters leave their ballots blank on the question, that would constitute as a "no" vote.)
The legislative bureau study gives a range of estimates from a low-end, 90-day convention with 25 delegates, a small staff and commensurate needs for facilities, supplies and equipment, to a 120-day convention with 102 delegates, a much larger staff, more space and higher compensation. That includes a high estimate of $3.1 million for facilities to hold the Con Con.
House Majority Leader Kirk Caldwell said, however, that the legislative study tracks the one done by the lieutenant governor's task force.
"Like going to a restaurant and getting a menu," the report provided the public and legislators with a wide variety of options, he said.
The study's summary said the high and low estimates listed are "comparative extremes," and that it is "extremely likely the final cost will be an intermediate amount."
Candidates will run for the delegate seats.
On the high end, Caldwell said the legislative study provided for publicly financed campaigns for 101 delegates, estimated to cost $20.8 million. Subtracting that amount from the $41.7 million leaves about $20 million, which is well above the $11.1 million.
"It's within the ballpark, a little higher at the low end and it's higher at the high end," Caldwell said, adding a likely cost of between $6 million and $18 million.
A resolution by the House of Representatives prompted the Legislative Reference Bureau Con Con study, resulting in the study's estimates of $6,413,441 to $41,739,273.
Caldwell said he personally has not decided to oppose or support a Con Con, but urges the public to "educate themselves before going into the voting booth."
"It's important that we distinguish between constitutional issues and legislative issues, as well as consider the costs involved, which will ultimately fall upon the taxpayers," he said.
Aiona, who supports a Constitutional Convention, has said that it is ultimately "up to the people to decide if 30 years is long enough to wait before taking a fresh look at our state Constitution."
The last convention was held in 1978 and had a $2.5 million budget, though the entire amount was not spent. In 1998, voters rejected convening a Con Con.