Friday, April 6, 2001


UHPA HSTA strike logo

Gov. blasts Senate
over budget ‘geared
to satisfy’ strikers

'They have raised expectations'
to an unreal level, he says

By Richard Borreca

A "lack of will" by the state Legislature to hold the line and bargain hard is hurting the state's position as Hawaii moves into its second day of a statewide education strike.

In a meeting with reporters yesterday, Cayetano, who said the state has made three progressively better offers to the striking teachers, now blames the Legislature for encouraging a strike.

"I don't think the Senate has been very helpful. I think they have raised expectations to an unreasonable level," Cayetano said.

Cayetano, who complained he has not seen the Senate's latest version of the budget "except what I read in the papers," said it is not well prepared.

"The budget ... takes funding from some very important programs," he said. "It is a sign of an undisciplined budget, budgeting geared to satisfying a political problem and not doing what we think should be done."

In response, Senate Ways and Means chairman Brian Taniguchi defended the latest budget plan, noting that he is trying to give Cayetano as much money as possible to settle the teachers strike. "We are actually trying to help the governor by providing a means to fund the pay raises," he said.

While Cayetano has offered the teachers a 14 percent raise that would cost the state an additional $93 million, Taniguchi says he is trying to put together a budget giving the teachers an extra $200 million.

"We are very anxious to fund teacher pay raises and we have done all we can to do so," Taniguchi said.

Taniguchi first suggested raising excise taxes, then proposed rolling back a planned tax cut to pay for teacher pay raises. Now he is suggesting taking money from special funds and delaying or canceling a series of programs suggested by Cayetano.

Taniguchi counters the governor, saying that to balance the budget, Cayetano is willing to lay off state workers or furlough them. That, Taniguchi says, is unacceptable to the Senate.

"He is talking about massive layoff. He is talking about furloughs; we don't want to go there. We did layoffs, and I don't think it was a good experience," Taniguchi said.

Lt. Gov. Mazie Hirono yesterday joined the picket line at Kauluwela School in Liliha, but the governor saw nothing wrong with management joining the strike line.

"She wanted to go out and express her support for the teachers and demonstrate some empathy and compassion; I think that is fine and I feel the same way, too," Cayetano said.

Others at the state Capitol are also thinking about helping the teachers.

Rep. Nathan Suzuki (D, Moanalua), who is married to a teacher, is dropping off Japanese treats, manju and mochi, to the striking teachers.

But he is declining to join the picket lines. "Our work is here. We're not a part of that collective-bargaining process. That's the executive department and union," he said.

Rep. Jerry Chang (D, Hilo) said he would send food to the lines but wouldn't join them, "because there are so many, and you can't join them all."

Star-Bulletin reporter Lisa Asato contributed to this report.

>> HSTA Web site
>> UHPA Web site
>> State Web site
>> Governor's strike Web site
>> DOE Web site

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