Lingle wants tax cuts,
cleaner government

The GOP contender for governor
outlines her stance on issues

By Richard Borreca

Republican gubernatorial candidate Linda Lingle says she would drop the taxes on food and medical services, restore the state food tax credit, create a cabinet post for tourism and audit all state finances within the first 180 days of her administration.

She also would build two privately funded drug treatment prisons to treat convicted drug addicts.

These proposals, along with Lingle's positions on subjects ranging from education to the environment, are detailed in a 25-page booklet, "Agenda for a New Beginning," which was to be released at a news conference this morning.

Four years ago, Democrats criticized Lingle's campaign as being weak on issues. Her former opponent, Democratic Gov. Ben Cayetano, said her positions on the issues were vague and lacked meaning.

This year, Lingle's booklet addresses the major issues effecting Hawaii, including ethics, government efficiency, economic reform, public education, the University of Hawaii, the environment, public safety, health care, alternative energy and native Hawaiians.

"My vision is to make government a well-run, rock-solid operation. It should meet its financial obligations, provide quality services to the public, especially those in need, and support entrepreneurial individuals, businesses and organizations that dream big and want to make those dreams happen in Hawaii," she said in a statement.

Saying ethics in government is the "single most damaging factor" in Hawaii's anti-business image, Lingle promises to open state contracts to all qualified bidders and also make government boards and commissions "representative of Hawaii's diverse population and geographic areas."

Lingle also calls for mandatory prison sentences for officials convicted of corruption and fraud.

Lingle, who was mayor of Maui for eight years, also wants to decentralize state government and split the Department of Education into seven locally elected school boards.

She would create governor's advisory councils on the neighbor islands that would meet monthly and advise the governor on people to serve on boards and commissions.

Lingle repeats her opposition to several Democrat-supported measures to lower gasoline prices by capping retail prices.

Her administration would lower gas prices by increasing competition, removing restriction on where gas stations can be built and reviewing other laws that drive up gas prices. Her answer to the Democrat-sponsored mandatory recycling bill is to encourage the state to use more recycled materials.

She has several health care proposals, including incentives for purchasing long-term plans and providing health care for part-time workers.

Lingle would "increase health care options to include health maintenance organizations, preferred provider organizations, low and high deductible plans as well as medical savings accounts," something she said is now prohibited in Hawaii, but available in most other states.

She would require state government to provide health care coverage for employees who work more than 19 hours a week. And she supports tax credits or deductions for employers who provide health insurance to workers presently not covered because they work less than 19 hours a week.

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