Hawaii's Republican legislators challenged Gov. Ben Cayetano and Democrat lawmakers today to work with them to provide tax relief and government reform.
State GOPs want
budget focus on
By Pat Omandam
The Republican legislative caucus said this morning they are worried about the significant increase in the size of the fiscal year 2002-2003 executive budget. It is a budget that maintains the status quo and does nothing to truly change the expensive and inefficient way the state spends tax dollars, said Sen. Fred Hemmings (R- Kailua).
Hemmings said Republicans plan to introduce legislation that provides for staff and systemic reform within the state's public education system.
"We have been visiting public schools and documenting that the schools are in disrepair not from lack of funds but from poor management and inefficient spending," Hemmings said.
"The lag time, red tape and procurement process leads the state to pay often three times more for a school repair than is necessary."
Sen. Bob Hogue (Kaneohe-Enchanted Lake) added education funding is "free-falling" into an abyss known as the Felix Consent Decree, which has created a nightmare and unprecedented inequities for the average public school student.
The governor submitted his two-year $16.3 billion budget to the Legislature on Monday.
"The governor cannot go on with business as usual, taking every new dollar in taxes and putting it into government programs," said Rep. Barbara Marumoto (Waialae Iki). "We need to stimulate the economy by eliminating the excise tax on food and medical services. Cutting taxes will encourage growth and help keep recession away."
House Republicans say the threat of an economic recession is real and the economy needs to be stimulated.
Rep. Charles Djou (Kahaluu-Heeia) said Republicans will push for mandatory tax refunds or credits because the state general fund balance exceeded 5 percent in the last two years. These excess funds should be refunded to the people who earned them, he said.
The GOP caucus, which grew this year to 19 Republicans in the state House and three in the state Senate, said it is prepared to build a coalition with Democrats to stimulate the economy and help education.
"We support the governor's efforts in civil service reform and hope that our Democrat colleagues work with us to reform Hawaii's failing and expensive state budget process and our weak education system," said House Minority Floor Leader David Pendleton (Maunawili-Kaneohe).