Lingle scored
some gains in

The GOP governor's initiatives
to improve ethics, education
and the economy failed

The just-concluded Legislative session provided Gov. Linda Lingle with some gains in her government reform efforts, but several initiatives to improve ethics, education and the economy failed this year.

Republican Lingle, however, praised the Legislature in an interview Friday. She said she enjoyed working with the Democratic majorities in the House and Senate and focused on the ideas she was able to lobby successfully.

"The procurement bill was an historic effort ... it dramatically opens the process," Lingle said.

The bill will provide broad-based selection committees to pick contractors for state work and it will define her administration "as a government that likes things open." The selection committee, their recommendations and the reasons for selecting nonbid contractors will all be public, she said.

The idea, Lingle explained, is then to hold the selection committee accountable for both the selection and performance of the contractors.

"If you build a stadium where you can't see home plate, we will know who picked the person," Lingle said.

The procurement issue is even more important than campaign spending reform, Lingle said, because campaign spending would just regulate candidates for office, while the procurement bill will control how government money is spent and contracts awarded.

She praised Sen. Cal Kawamoto (D, Waipahu) and Rep. Mike Magaoay (D, Schofield-Kahuku), the leaders of their respective government affairs committees, for working on the procurement issue.

The second major accomplishment for her administration, Lingle said, was to hold down state spending.

She started her term by announcing a spending and hiring freeze, and a 5 percent cut in the state budget for this fiscal year and the next two years. While the budget actually grew because of negotiated salary increases and relaxation of some of the spending restrictions, Lingle said she "set a foundation for being fiscally responsible."

Lingle and Ted Hong, her new collective bargaining director, were also able to get agreement with the major public unions, representing white and blue collar workers, teachers and University of Hawaii faculty to new labor agreements without any pay increases.

Lingle, however, did agree to pay for health insurance increases caused by a switching to a new statewide employee health fund system.

In other labor matters, however, Lingle was unable to get legislative agreements to a series of labor law changes. She wanted to take school principals out of unions and allow state charter school employees to decide for themselves if they would be a presented by a union. Both issues were dead also upon arrival at the Legislature.

Lingle also failed to secure the confirmation of two of six regent appointees, as the Senate failed to confirm the appointments of Shelton Jim On, a GOP worker and attorney and CPA, and Edward Sultan, a businessman and husband of Lingle's campaign finance chairwoman.

Ironically, Rae McCorkle, Sultan's wife, was confirmed to a seat on the Land Use Commission.

A bill, pushed by the Democrats for two years, to provide a state-run long term care plan that would cost taxpayers $10 a month and after 10 years provide for one year of care, was again criticized by Lingle.

"I know the people who proposed it were well-intentioned, but this will never work," Lingle said.

"You would never have the money for the payouts and the costs would be very high.

"This would be a huge problem for us, you just can't have a system that won't pay for itself," Lingle said.

She had urged a 30 percent tax credit for those who purchase private long-term care insurance, but although the provision was included in the same long-term care bill, it was dramatically changed to give a small tax credit.

Turning to the political fallout from her maiden legislative session, Lingle said, the simple fact of having a GOP governor will help her party in the 2004 elections.

"We answered the question of how a Republican governor is going to do with a Democratic legislature," Lingle said. "I hope people came to feel that we can work very well together and that we have been successful in getting structural changes," Lingle said.

She plans a series of major fund-raisers here and on Maui, the Big Island and Kauai in June to coincide with her 50th birthday on June 4 and is also planning a summer mainland fund-raising trip.

Lingle said that while she hopes the GOP will be able to take control of the 51 member House next year, she noted that a realistic goal would be to regain a one-third representation so that her vetoes will be sustained and Republicans will have the legislative power to force floor votes on bills. The are currently 15 GOP House members.


Gov. Lingle's
Legislative Scorecard

>> Divide school board into seven individual boards. Failed

>> Prohibit political contributions by anyone benefiting from nonbid contracts. Failed

>> Omnibus procurement bill to bring transparency into government contracting. Passed

>> Open shop for charter schools workers, take school principals out of unions. Failed

>> Make permanent the raised age of consent. Passed

>> Reduce the income taxes of those who earn the least, by raising the standard deductions. Failed

>> Eliminate the general excise tax on private health insurance companies to encourage new health care providers to enter the market. Failed

>> Ko Olina tax credit. Passed

>> Long-term care insurance tax credit. Passed, but included in bill likely to be vetoed.

>> Allow counties to establish their own civil service system and conduct their own collective bargaining. Failed


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