State of Hawaii

Economic revival
will take priority
in Lingle’s address

By Richard Borreca

Working without a TelePrompTer, from just a few pages of outlined notes, Gov. Linda Lingle plans to give the speech on her legislative plan geared to reviving the economy which she has been preparing for more than a month.

Her maiden State of the State speech tomorrow morning comes at a time when the state is running a projected deficit of between $200 million and $250 million, when war looms with Iraq and Hawaii's state workers are looking for a pay raise.

The speech, Lingle said, will cover the three major topics that she repeatedly referred to during her campaign: reform education, revive the economy and strengthen state ethics laws.

Address carried live

Gov. Linda Lingle's first State of the State address will be tomorrow at 10 a.m. The speech will be carried live by KGMB-TV, KHNL-TV, KHON-TV, KITV, 'Olelo Community TV and KSSK radio, and it will also be live on the Internet at and

"We will also most likely talk about health care and prescription drugs. I have a pretty neat prescription drug plan," Lingle said. "There will also be a section on homeland security and public safety, also native Hawaiian issues and the environment."

The major theme, however, is likely to be how to revive the state's economy, and Lingle says it will not be easy.

"The situation our state faces does not require a one-time shot in the arm. We are not in this situation because of something that just occurred and we can shock our way out of it. We need long-term, fundamental, structural changes," Lingle said.

Her aides say Lingle is excited and "energized" as she prepares her State of the State address.

"She will come out with an aggressive legislative plan," Lenny Klompus, Lingle's senior communication aide, said.

Lingle looks at the speech as a chance not only to inform the 76 legislators about the condition of the state, but to talk directly with the state's citizens.

"I think about this speech a lot. I have been thinking about it a lot for the past month," Lingle said in an interview Friday.

"It is what the public will understand. This is my attempt to tell the public where government needs to go now."

Legislators are also awaiting word on where Republican Lingle wants to take a state that is generally considered Democratic.

"This will be the governor's vision for what she plans, and we look forward to getting the details on many of her ideas," said Rep. Sylvia Luke (D, Pacific Heights-Punchbowl), the House vice speaker.

Getting down to the details is also what Lingle's fellow Republicans want.

"I want her to be very specific in terms of legislation proposed. ... We need legislation that we can start rallying around and that the public can understand," Sen. Sam Slom (R, Diamond Head-Hawaii Kai) said.

"I would also like to have her personal guarantee that she will be involved in the legislative process. A lot is going to depend on her ability to sell the program," Slom said.

Lawmakers are looking for answers to the immediate question of how to balance the state budget.

"She should come in with some initiatives to balance the budget," Senate President Robert Bunda said.

"When you start ticking off the numbers, you have tax reductions, tax credits -- there is a hole. What do you fill it with?" Bunda asked.

Senate Democratic leader Sen. Colleen Hanabusa (D, Waianae) also wants to hear about the state's budget and how Lingle's campaign promises will mesh.

"We will be listening for how all those commitments will be paid for. Where is the money going to come from?" Hanabusa asked.

Other legislators are looking for some sign that Republican Lingle would be willing to cooperate with past Democratic plans.

Sen. Ron Menor, Consumer Protection Committee chairman, says the legislature passed a series of consumer protection laws last year that still must be implemented. He wants to know how the administration intends to act on them.

"I want to hear a commitment from her that the administration is following through on consumer protection legislation, including health insurance rate regulation and prescription drug legislation," said Menor (D, Mililani).

"Maybe this is hoping too much, but perhaps she should reconsider her position on regulating consumer prices for gasoline in Hawaii," Menor added.

During the campaign, Lingle repeatedly attacked the gasoline and prescription drug plans passed last year, saying they would not work.
State of Hawaii

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