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Monday, January 22, 2001

State of Hawaii

By Ronen Zilberman, Star-Bulletin
Lawmakers applaud as Gov. Ben Cayetano gives his annual
State of the State speech outlining his agenda. Next to
Cayetano are Senate President Robert Bunda, background,
and House Speaker Calvin Say.

State of State:
‘Economy is back’

Gov. Cayetano unveils Pre-Plus,
which would ensure preschool
access 'for all needy children'

Full text of speech

By Richard Borreca

Gov. Ben Cayetano today proposed helping Hawaii's youngest and most advanced students with universal preschool education and scholarships for all students graduating with a B average.

In his State of the State speech to the Legislature, Cayetano asked that Lt. Gov. Mazie Hirono be put in charge of a preschool education program, dubbed Pre-Plus, that would guarantee universal access to preschool programs "for all needy children."

Programs today already take care of school for 8,000 of the 16,000 children who are in need of the program.

"No general funds are needed. Instead we will utilize federal, private and other money to give preschool access to the remaining 8,000 by 2004," he said.

"I consider this program such a high priority that I have asked Lt. Gov. Hirono to head it," he said.

He also proposed that the state's $175 million Hurricane Relief Fund be used to start a special fund that will pay for scholarships for Hawaii students going to any school in the University of Hawaii system.

"I propose that the $175 million now sitting in the Hurricane Relief Fund be deposited in the state rainy-day fund, and the interest be deposited into a scholarship fund called the Hawaii New Century Scholarship.

"This is not a new idea," he said. "It is patterned after Georgia's immensely popular Hop Scholarship, which is supported by a state lottery.

"Hawaii can do the same things without a lottery. All we need is bold and innovative thinking."

Cayetano was encouraged by the economy's turnaround, saying, "Hawaii's economy is back, expanding, stronger and more diverse than ever in the past decade."

Cayetano also proposed building a tourist visitor center at the old Cannon Club at Diamond Head and "evaluate the feasibility of an urban park at the site of Ala Wai Golf Course."

"Nothing big will ever be done by people who think small," he said.

Cayetano repeated his call for rebuilding Kakaako, with a world-class aquarium and a new high-tech medical school for the University of Hawaii.

And he added that the Bishop Museum is willing to help with the redevelopment of the area.

"A few weeks ago, we took a big step forward in making this project a reality when the Bishop Museum board decided to relocate their proposed science and technology center to Kakaako," Cayetano said.

On the issue of native rights, Cayetano pledged to use every authority vested in him as governor and every resource available in his administration to successfully defend and protect the rights of native Hawaiians.

He spoke specifically of the Barrett vs. State of Hawaii case, in which Moiliili resident Patrick Barrett is challenging the constitutionality of the Office of Hawaiian Affairs and the Hawaiian Homes Commission.

"It is a broadside attack on Hawaiian programs and on our Constitution," Cayetano said.

The governor also will ask the Republican caucus of the state Legislature to withdraw bills to merge OHA and DHHL. Under different circumstances this may be an idea worth considering, but to lump them together under the cloud of the Barrett lawsuit only puts both at greater risk, he said.

OHA and the department have different histories, origins and purposes.

"I ask this in all sincerity and with the best intentions," he said.

Cayetano again asked the Legislature to finish the work first started two years ago in reforming the state civil service laws, but he steered clear of attacking the state's labor negotiations with public employee unions, saying only that the reforms are long overdue.

"We will continue to follow a policy of only agreeing to collective bargaining agreements that increase the efficiency and productivity of government workers," he said.

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The governor's proposals

Highlights of Gov. Ben Cayetano's State of the State address:

Pre-plus Program

Bullet Universal access to preschool program for 8,000 needy children.

Higher Education

Bullet $141 million first phase of a new UH medical school.
Bullet Transfer $175 million from Hurricane Relief Fund to rainy-day fund to set up the Hawaii New Century Scholarship for public and private students entering University of Hawaii system.

Lower Education

Bullet $290 million to construct, repair and maintain school buildings and facilities.
Bullet $21 million for computers to lower student-to-computer ratio.

Government Reform

Bullet Change criteria used by fact-finding panels and arbitrators in making collective bargaining awards.
Bullet Give state the right to privatize.
Bullet Curb overtime abuse.

Social programs

Bullet $10 million to supplement federal funds to revitalize Kuhio Park Terrace and Kuhio Homes.
Bullet $2 million to expand Kupuna Care and Nursing Home Without Walls programs.
Bullet Increase minimum wage.
Bullet Mandate drug treatment for nonviolent, first-time criminal offenders.

Hawaiian issueS

Bullet Continue building Hawaiian homesteads.
Bullet Pledged to fight legal challenge to the constitutionality of the Office of Hawaiian Affairs and the Department of Hawaiian Home Lands.


Bullet Improve piers in Hilo and Kauai to expand cruise line industry.
Bullet Use state funds to market Hawaii as a business destination.
Bullet Build new Waikiki visitor center at Diamond Head and evaluate the feasibility of a park at the Ala Wai Golf Course.


Bullet $22 million to repair state parks.

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