Wednesday, July 21, 1999

Hawaii State Seal

Mizuguchi blasts move
to delay sports complex

Cayetano: raises mean layoffs

By Mike Yuen


Political retaliation "must be" the motive behind Gov. Ben Cayetano's decision to put on hold a $27 million sports complex in Kapolei that Cayetano himself once touted, Senate President Norman Mizuguchi says.

Cayetano's sudden cold feet for the complex, envisioned as a spring training facility for professional Japanese baseball teams and a vehicle for sports tourism, can't be explained simply by Cayetano's rationalization that Japanese teams haven't made a commitment to come, Mizuguchi (D, Aiea) said yesterday.

"He has to have a better explanation," said Mizuguchi, who, for more than a decade, has made the complex one of his pet projects.

"You folks should understand, why now?" Mizuguchi told the Star-Bulletin. If Cayetano had any concerns, he should have voiced them earlier, Mizuguchi added.

Mizuguchi noted that Cayetano attended the groundbreaking for the complex last year and the biennium budget Cayetano proposed to lawmakers included $200,000 for equipment and furniture for the facility, which had been scheduled to be completed next year.

Cayetano yesterday reiterated what he said last week: that he doesn't believe that building the complex will guarantee that ballclubs will come. He is reassessing the project, and is considering having it reconfigured for Little League baseball and amateur soccer, Cayetano said.

Cayetano's relationship with the Senate has been tense. It reached a flashpoint three months ago when the Senate ousted two key members of Cayetano's Cabinet -- then-Attorney General Margery Bronster and then-Budget Director Earl Anzai.

Two weeks ago, although Cayetano insisted that he wasn't trying to further strain his relationship with the Senate, he selected Anzai as his new attorney general. When the Legislature convenes next year, the Senate must decide whether to confirm Anzai.

Mizuguchi, who voted to dump Bronster and Anzai, said putting the Kapolei project in limbo shuts Hawaii out from developing sports as a new leg for the state's faltering economy to stand on.

"All of a sudden he calls for a re-evaluation," said Mizuguchi, who learned of Cayetano's action from media reports and not from the administration.

Japanese and Taiwanese teams are seriously interested in coming to Hawaii, but they can't make a commitment until they know when the stadium and practice fields will be completed, Mizuguchi said.

Cayetano says raises
would result in layoffs

By Mike Yuen


If public-workers unions were to seek and get pay raises in the next fiscal biennium, Gov. Ben Cayetano says he would be forced to lay off workers to pay for the salary increases.

That's the reality of the state's fiscal situation, he said yesterday.

Three hundred fifteen positions would have to be eliminated for every raise of 1 percent, said interim Budget Director Neal Miyahira.

That's calculated on the general-fund salary base of $1.4 billion, where 1 percent equals $14 million, Miyahira said.

The average salary of a state worker is $35,100; with fringe benefits included, it is $44,600, Miyahira added.

Cayetano said he had a meeting earlier this year with the heads of the state's two largest public-workers unions -- the Hawaii Government Employees Association and the United Public Workers -- and the state's four mayors. At that gathering, it was agreed that if the excess earnings of the state retirement fund were used to pay for retroactive salary increases, there would not be an attempt to get new pay raises, he added.

If unions come to the bargaining table to seek pay increases, "that goes contrary to what we talked about," Cayetano said.

HGEA Executive Director Russell Okata could not be reached. Attempts to contact UPW state Director Gary Rodrigues at his office were futile.

Public-sector unions are chafing under a bill approved by the Legislature that freezes their members' pay, and there has been talk of a legal challenge. Cayetano said the measure is probably unconstitutional, but lawmakers intended it as a message -- the state, with its cash-strapped general fund, can't afford to pay for salary increases.

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