Wednesday, April 28, 1999

Senate rejects Anzai

The vote comes after a
less-than-ringing endorsement
by the Ways and Means panel

Bronster ousted

By Mike Yuen


Legislature '99 The Senate's rejection of state Budget Director Earl Anzai came minutes after Attorney General Margery Bronster was rejected -- but without much debate.

Fifteen senators voted against Anzai, including veteran Ways and Means Co-Chairwoman Carol Fukunaga (D, Makiki).

Only 10, including first-year Ways and Means Co-Chairman Andrew Levin, voted for Anzai.

Fukunaga criticized Anzai for not following an attorney general's opinion that the budget can't be balanced by spending restrictions imposed by the governor.

Yesterday Anzai said he knew the Senate could very well reject him.

Anzai's acknowledgment yesterday came shortly after the Senate Ways and Means Committee approved his nomination. But it was far from a ringing endorsement.

In bringing Anzai up for a vote by her panel, Ways and Means Co-Chairwoman Carol Fukunaga (D, Makiki) remarked that the full Senate should "consider the merits of his nomination."

Only three committee members -- Co-Chairman Andrew Levin (D, Volcano), and Sens. Randy Iwase (D, Mililani) and Brian Taniguchi (D, Manoa) -- gave their unqualified support to Anzai.

Fukunaga and six others moved Anzai's nomination to the Senate floor with reservations. The others were Sens. Whitney Anderson (R, Kailua), Jan Yagi Buen (D, Waihee), Jonathan Chun (D, Lihue), David Ige (D, Newtown), Marshall Ige (D, Kaneohe) and Rod Tam (D, Pauoa).

The concerns with Anzai centered on his statement to the panel last week that he ignored or forgot about an attorney general's opinion saying spending restrictions shouldn't be used to balance the budget.

The administration restricts the spending of funds appropriated by the Legislature without telling lawmakers or the public, Tam complained.

Vote on Anzai

Yes (10):

Bullet Avery B. Chumbley (D, East Maui, North Kauai)
Bullet Suzanne Chun Oakland (D, Palama, Alewa Heights)
Bullet Lorraine R. Inouye (D, North Hilo, Kohala)
Bullet Randy Iwase (D, Mililani, Waipio Gentry)
Bullet Andrew Levin (D, Kau, Kona)
Bullet Matt Matsunaga (D, Waialae, Palolo)
Bullet Bob Nakata (D, Kaneohe, Kahuku, Heeia)
Bullet Norman Sakamoto (D, Moanalua, Salt Lake)
Bullet Joe Tanaka (D, Wailuku, Upcountry, Kahului)
Bullet Brian Taniguchi (D, Manoa, McCully).

No (15):

Bullet Whitney Anderson (R, Kailua, Waimanalo)
Bullet Jan Yagi Buen (D, North/West Maui, Molokai, Lanai)
Bullet Robert Bunda (D, Wahiawa, North Shore)
Bullet Jonathan Chun (D, South Kauai, Niihau)
Bullet Carol Fukunaga (D, Tantalus-Makiki)
Bullet Colleen Hanabusa (D, Waianae, Maili, Makaha)
Bullet David Ige (D, Pearlridge, Pacific Palisades)
Bullet Marshall Ige (D, Kaneohe, Enchanted Lake)
Bullet Les Ihara Jr. (D, Kapahulu, Kaimuki, Waikiki)
Bullet Brian Kanno (D, Ewa Beach, Makakilo)
Bullet Cal Kawamoto (D, Waipahu, Pearl City)
Bullet David M. Matsuura (D, South Hilo, Puna)
Bullet Sam Slom (R, Kalama Valley, Aina Haina)
Bullet Rod Tam (D, Downtown, Nuuanu)
Bullet Norman Mizuguchi (D, Fort Shafter, Aiea).

Another complaint: that the administration was raiding "excessive earnings" of the state's and counties' retirement fund to balance the state's budget.

But in defending his longtime political ally, Gov. Ben Cayetano asserted that Anzai's problems are "totally political."

"I think there are a few people who are doing things for political reasons, their own political reasons, and it's unfortunate because third parties get hurt," Cayetano said. "I would hope that things be done on the merits."

Anzai said he didn't know what was behind his troubles.

"I am concerned that a budget director would forget about a legal opinion maybe two years old that dealt specifically with his department on something as fundamental as how you formulate a budget," said Chun, an attorney.

But Iwase, also an attorney, said attorney general opinions don't have the force of law -- they're advisory.

A governor, Iwase added, should be given broad latitude in the selection of his Cabinet members, and senators should only reject nominees when there are "substantial, documented reasons."

"You are not selected to run the Budget and Finance Department because you are the Pillsbury doughboy and you can be huggable," Iwase added. "I'm not going to color my vote based on whether I like you or don't like you. That is not what the state of Hawaii expects from you. They expect you too not engage in politics and to vote your conscience."

Neither Iwase or Cayetano provided specifics of the politics that clouded Anzai's nomination.

Marshall Ige said he was concerned about the administration's proposal to raid $280 million of the retirement system's "excess earnings" over the next two fiscal years to pay for public workers' salary increases.

"If you're going to take from the retirement system, I might have some heartburn over that," Marshall Ige said.

Bronster ousted

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