Legislature winds down with promises unmet


POSTED: Wednesday, May 06, 2009

There once was a band of monkeys, Rudyard Kipling wrote, that would pick up sticks in the morning and spend the day waving them around.

The monkeys' day was devoted to telling each other what wonderful and glorious things they would do with the sticks: They would vanquish foes, build bridges and find new ways of getting the best food.

Then exhausted from a day of promises, the monkeys would toss the sticks, find something to eat and await the morning, when they would find new sticks to wave.

Kipling never visited Hawaii or saw the state Legislature, but he could have had them in mind when he wrote about the monkeys.

The list of things this year's version of the Legislature was on verge of doing, goes for pages and pages.

Lawmakers were going to ban pit bulls, let same-sex couples form civil unions, renounce their pay raises, build wondrous new highways, whip weed-choked parks into shape and even stop the state hospitals from bleeding red ink.

And then on Day Two they were ready to tackle education and the economy.

So how did all that work out for you?

If pit bulls can breathe easy, same-sex couples can't. The 76 cut their pay raise from 36 percent to 26 percent; you get to keep your potholes; dirty parks and the hospitals got emergency transfusions, not repairs.

And the economy and the schools? They are doing about the same as in January.

Faced with an economy in crisis that approaches biblical dimensions, the closer you come to the state Capitol, this Legislature was all about surviving, not doing.

Gov. Linda Lingle was almost howling in agony Monday as she surveyed the wreckage of her “;Recreational Renaissance”; plan, which had been designed to organize the rebuilding of dilapidated state parks.

This was a good year to learn how to grow tomatoes and make bayberry-scented candles, not fix the parks.

Legislative critics like Lingle are saying the only growth industry in Hawaii is raising taxes. Others may say this year the best alternative is to promise nothing.

Richard Borreca writes on politics every Wednesday. Reach him at .(JavaScript must be enabled to view this email address).