Wednesday, April 4, 2001
FISCAL RESPONSIBILITY has motivated every state legislature in the nation except Hawaii's to require that a price tag be attached to each bill that involves expenditure of tax dollars. Hawaii may catch up this session because of a Republican initiative that the House is being forced to consider. Such a measure will be difficult for the Democratic majority to ignore because of the GOP's new strength in the House and the obvious common sense of the bill.
new power may spur
truth in spending
The issue: Republicans have forced
a state House committee to consider
a fiscal reform measure by exercising
their new political clout.
Such "truth in spending" notes are required to be included in bills in all other states so they can be examined by the public as the bills are introduced, according to a survey by the Council of State Governments.
In Hawaii, only House Finance Committee leaders and staff know how much money is involved in the hundreds of bills that require funding, says freshman Republican Rep. Guy Ontai, the bill's sponsor. He says most legislators see only a token amount inserted into a bill until the state budget is ready for final approval.
Hawaii's Constitution allows legislation to be killed at the committee level unless at least one-third of the chamber demands that it be brought to the floor. By winning 19 of the 51 House seats in last year's elections, Republicans surpassed the magic number by two. The l7 signatures of House members on the bill including, to their credit, Democrats Marilyn Lee and Lei Ahu Isa, allowed Ontai to announce that the "truth in spending" bill would be dragged to the House floor if Rep. Nathan Suzuki (D, Aliamanu) did not schedule it for consideration by the House Legislative Management Committee, of which he is chairman.
Following protocol, Ontai informed Suzuki of the plan, and Suzuki responded by scheduling the bill for a committee hearing tomorrow morning. The Finance Committee also has jurisdiction over the bill.
The practice of Hawaii legislators handling bills in the coziest fashion in the country is indicative of a Democratic grip that has existed for too many years. While Democrats still comprise a comfortable majority in both the House and Senate, the increased Republican presence is providing a breath of fresh air and perhaps even reform in the way bills are considered in the Legislature.
The public education system and the entire state of Hawaii will take a massive hit tomorrow if school teachers and university faculty go on strike. Even so, reason and common sense should prevail if we are to survive the damage.
not go on strike
The issue: Public school
teachers and University of
Hawaii faculty appear ready
to walk out tomorrow.
Both the teachers and the faculty unions and the state are continuing to negotiate, a hopeful sign that the walkouts may be averted. But if these talks do not bring about settlements, all parties should retain civility to prevent the situation from escalating into disorder.
As parents and students look for alternatives to the classroom, as teachers and professors assemble picket signs and strike plans, as administrators plot interim schedules, as law enforcement and other government agencies arrange safety measures, all should keep in mind that there will be an aftermath. If these strikes do take place, they won't last forever and in the end, conflicting forces will have to be able to face each other and work together again.
We urge the Hawaii State Teachers Association, the University of Hawaii Professional Assembly and Governor Cayetano to put every last-minute effort into reaching agreements in their contract disputes.
The unions should remember that strikes are their most powerful weapon and should be used only as a last resort.
The state should recognize that workers do not walk off their jobs lightly.
The community should realize that every citizen will pay an economic and emotional share in the cost of these strikes. That price may be even higher if prudence and rational behavior also break down.
Let's keep it cool.
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