Tuesday, April 3, 2001

Legislature 2001

GOP wins slot for
‘truth in spending’

Requiring a fiscal note
with all bills will keep isle
government more open,
legislators say

By Pat Omandam

After several attempts, the 19 House Republicans have persuaded the ruling House majority to hear a "truth in spending" bill after they threatened to pull it out of committee today.

Republicans said yesterday the proposal, which requires a fiscal note attached to all bills introduced in the state Legislature, would put Hawaii in line with the rest of the states in having some kind of notation with each bill that shows how much the proposal would cost government.

Rep. Guy Ontai (R, Mililani), who sponsored the bill, said although budget worksheets in Hawaii are exempt from the state sunshine law, fiscal notes in other states are open public documents that can be examined as soon as the bill is introduced.

Currently, only the leadership of the House Finance Committee and staff know exactly how much total money is being requested among the hundreds of bills seeking funding, said Ontai.

He added that most lawmakers see only a token amount inserted until the budget is ready for final approval.

He and other Republicans threatened to pull the bill out of the Legislative Management Committee today if it was not heard by Chairman Nathan Suzuki (D, Aliamanu). Suzuki's office said yesterday the bill will be heard sometime Thursday morning.

These fiscal notes are required in 49 of 50 states, added Rep. Charles K. Djou (R, Kaneohe).

"Hawaii's lack of a fiscal-note provision again shows how much we need to modernize our budget process and make it more open to the public," Djou said.

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