Cayetano spreads blame for
Sens. Holt and Ikeda

By Mike Yuen

Gov. Ben Cayetano has refused to go as far as state Democratic Party Chairman Richard Port, who is blaming two key Democratic senators for "many of the problems" during this year's legislative session.

Port this week held Senate Consumer Protection Chairman Milton Holt responsible for the failure of no-fault auto insurance reform. Port also accused Senate Ways and Means Chairwoman Donna Ikeda of running her panel like a dictator.

Gov. Ben Cayetano
Yesterday, Cayetano suggested that other senators and Port may be partly to blame if they did not try to curb Holt and Ikeda if they didn't like the duo's actions.

Given the control Holt had over the no-fault issue, Cayetano said it was incumbent on every legislator to make his or her views known so that "you create the pressure to change things. Nothing happened in no-fault because that pressure wasn't there."

He added: "You can't have the Legislature becoming a one man, one woman show.

"When I was there, the chair had a lot of authority. However, the majority caucuses had a great deal of influence on chairs. We would listen and oftentimes compromises would be made and we would report things out. I thought we got a lot done when I was there."

He was disappointed, Cayetano said, that Ikeda bottled up an administration measure that would have repealed the tax credit for local insurance companies. Out-of-state firms were willing to settle a lawsuit over the tax credit by giving the state $27 million in taxes in escrow. That would have netted the state $13.5 million.

Removal of the credit would also have given the state $22 million annually.

Cayetano added: "I have had differences with both senators. This is an election year and the public will judge everyone accordingly."

Ikeda, who branded Port's attack unjustified, has said she is running for re-election. Holt won't yet disclose his plans.

In assessing the legislative session, Cayetano said, "Overall, I would say that it was a somewhat mediocre session."

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