Icy relations freeze Capitol commitments


POSTED: Wednesday, May 13, 2009

In just five months Gov. Linda Lingle and Hawaii's Democrats have managed to go from thawing to Ice Age frozen.

Back in January Lingle was the one offering the ice-breaker, saying in her State of the State speech, “;We cannot afford to merely hunker down and muddle through the next year or two.”;

By the end of the session, Lingle and the Legislature's Democrats were not just hunkered down, they were using each other for hand grenade practice.

Since she took over the Capitol's fifth floor in 2002, Lingle has seen a steady deterioration of relations between the executive and legislative branch. Democrats have been quick to condemn.

By 2005, Rep. Marcus Oshiro was warning her not to overstep “;the expressed collective judgment of the people's elected representatives.”;

Lingle is just as fast to say the budget is all the Democrats' fault.

Last week, Lingle answered back with her staged veto ceremony of four tax bills.

It signaled not just a political disagreement, but the total collapse of any attempt to reach agreement with a Legislature, forgetting that in January she said “;my administration and the Legislature are committed to working together to make the difficult but necessary decisions to ensure we have an balanced budget.”;

Since then both Lingle and the Democrats have thrown up their hands and walked away from the table.

Lingle prepared a budget in January, the Legislature prepared its own version in April and essentially ignored Lingle's ideas. The governor now must implement the Democrats' budget. See Oshiro's note for instructions on how to do that.

For Lingle the public veto spectacle means she doesn't intend to go back and start cooperating with the Democrats. Nobody will be singing “;Kumbaya”; this summer. It will be up to Lingle to drive home her point on the tax increases by uniting business groups and Republicans to rally next year to oppose the Democrats. Any other response won't work.

When January 2010 comes, don't expect anything more than the last act of Operation Deep Freeze.

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