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Lingle blasts lawmakers on demise of parks bill


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POSTED: Tuesday, May 05, 2009

Gov. Linda Lingle is lashing out at majority Democrats in the Senate for letting die a proposal that her administration contends would have spurred more than $100 million in local environmental projects and led to the creation of more than 3,000 jobs statewide.

The so-called “;Recreational Renaissance,”; a key facet of Lingle's legislative package, was aimed at renovating and repairing public parks, trails, small boat harbors and other projects.

A version of the proposal that had been kept alive by the House failed when lawmakers could not reach a compromise by a legislative deadline Friday.

“;We really don't know why,”; Lingle said yesterday at a news conference in her office. “;We're asking the same question the public's asking: How come?”;

Although Lingle's version of the recreational renaissance program was never heard, House members amended a Senate bill to include many of the proposals. Senate Bill 636 advanced out of the House before being stalled in conference committee.

Senate Water, Land and Hawaiian Affairs Chairman Clayton Hee (D, Kahuku-Kaneohe) said lawmakers' work on balancing the budget occupied most of their time as Friday's midnight deadline approached. The main budget bill was finalized Friday afternoon, at which point lawmakers spent the rest of the day and evening figuring out which ancillary spending bills would survive the cut.

“;A lot of the issues, in addition to (SB 636), took a back seat,”; Hee said. “;We simply ran out of time dealing with the budget,”; he said, but with bills on a two-year life cycle, lawmakers can take it up again next year.

Hee said some senators also expressed concerns about provisions of the bill that would require park user fees to fund debt service on bonds.

Thielen called the death of SB 636 “;unnecessarily cruel,”; noting that divisions within her agency worked to come up with the plan and that the final form of the bill had no fiscal implications to the budget.

“;All we were asking the Legislature to do was to allow the staff and our department to operate in a more cost-efficient and cost-effective manner during these troubled economic times,”; she said.

Thielen and Lingle said the department would move forward to complete as many of the renaissance projects as possible using existing resources.