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Group looks at reshaping government


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POSTED: Friday, October 23, 2009

The state's reinventing-government task force, made up of Hawaii business leaders and lawmakers, met for the first time yesterday to brainstorm ways to keep the budget-strapped Hawaii government running in a sour economy.

The 10-member group, created earlier this year by state lawmakers, is searching for ways to eliminate government waste and save money without cutting core services, such as education, basic health care and public safety.

That kind of cash is needed now more than ever as Hawaii faces an estimated $1 billion budget shortfall over the next 20 months. The deficit has led to new union contracts causing schools to close 17 days a year—starting today—and most other state government employees to take 18 unpaid days off this year and 24 next year.

“;Hopefully, we'll come up with some ideas that make sense, but nobody has ready answers,”; Hawaii Visitors and Convention Bureau President John Monahan said.

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The group was short on specifics yesterday. Initial proposals include handing over responsibilities and money from the state government to county governments so they can manage parks, highways and road repair.

Other ideas would allow county and state workers to share construction equipment or use computer records to reduce needless paper consumption.

Tax increases also might be discussed, although the focus is on prioritizing government services and identifying areas that could be cut.

“;If we want these same services to keep being provided, we're going to have to ante up and pay for them,”; said Randy Perreira, executive director for the Hawaii Government Employees Association and a task force member.

The task force will meet every other week through the next two months in hopes of coming up with recommendations that could be pitched to lawmakers before next year's legislative session.

On the Net:
» HCR 76: capitol.hawaii.gov