Gov gives up
on BOE split

Lingle says she likes
the funding formula
that came out of her
school reform efforts

Gov. Linda Lingle is dropping her campaign to break the single, statewide school board into several individual districts.

"I think it is pretty dead. The legislators themselves could resurrect it. ... There is nothing new you can put forward."

Gov. Lingle
About splitting the state school board

A year ago, Lingle made the drive to create seven separate school boards a major part of her campaign to reform education. She highlighted it in her State of the State speech, formed a special citizens task force and flew in national experts to bolster her case.

But the bill failed as the state Legislature opted to change the school funding formula and give more authority to individual school principals.

Lingle now says her ideas on education helped to set the Legislature on course to reform school funding. "The focus on public education has brought about what will be a major change in how education funding comes about, through the weighted student formula," Lingle said.

Lingle met individually with reporters yesterday to give a review of her first two years as the first Republican governor elected in Hawaii since statehood.

Asked if she would again bring up the issue of school boards, Lingle said, "No."

"I think it is pretty dead. The legislators themselves could resurrect it. ... There is nothing new you can put forward," Lingle said.

She called her performance productive, saying she was proudest of playing a part in helping to jump-start Hawaii's economy, increasing the number of poor children who could get medical insurance and improving trust in government.

"We opened up how judges are selected, and we broke the link between campaign contributions and contractors," Lingle said.

Others, however, said Lingle has accomplished little except give her blessing to Democratic legislation.

"When it comes to substance, I believe it was the Legislature that came up with a lot," Sen. Robert Bunda, Senate president, said.

"To tell you the truth, I don't think any of those issues (that Lingle claimed) are very substantive at all.

"She takes credit for a lot of things that the Democrats have come up with in the past, such as stopping animal quarantine and restoring the Wahiawa Freshwater Park," said Bunda (Wahiawa-Pupukea).

"The drug bill was a legislatively driven initiative, and all she did was get some federal grant money and then decide to call it her own program," Bunda added.

Lingle had said her administration had implemented a "drug-control strategy that set up an integrated, statewide approach to illegal drug use and underage drinking."

Another legislative leader, Sen. Colleen Hanabusa, said Lingle ran into trouble with the Legislature previously when she tried to politicize her programs.

"The secret is to not politicize it or make it a partisan issue," advised Hanabusa (D, Nanakuli-Makua).

"When we are able to set aside our partisan views, we were able to move together, but if the issue is defined as political, then you are going to have problems," Hanabusa said.

The Legislature is dominated by a combined 61-to-15 Democratic majority.

Yesterday, Lingle said that despite being from the minority political party, she expects to accomplish much next year.

"We will have a fully developed education plan that will focus on early education, charter schools and the university," Lingle said.

"We will have some exciting proposals that I think will have broad support from the Legislature and the community as well," Lingle said.

Lingle said she thought her administration will have a "great relationship" with the legislators next year.

"I am looking forward to it. They are well aware of the approval I have with the community. I have already had calls from the new legislators who want to come up and meet, and I think that is a good sign," Lingle said.

"I'm excited and ready to go," Lingle said.

Bunda, however, was critical of Lingle's dealings with the Legislature during her first two years.

"I would characterize it as difficult. It has been a relationship of not meeting with one another. She hasn't been around here, and we don't necessarily go up there (to her fifth-floor office) a lot.

"Whenever we need information from the administration, it is not really forthcoming," Bunda complained.


Lingle's list
of accomplishments

Some of the major accomplishments Gov. Linda Lingle said have happened during her first two years in office:

» Revised the nonbid selection process to break the bond between nonbid contracts and campaign donations.
» Made judicial nominee names public for comment before her final selection.
» Cut fees and government assessments by $5 million.
» Increased delinquent taxes collected by 28 percent, or $145 million.
» Held two Asia-Pacific homeland security summits and expositions.
» Created new environmental crime unit to prosecute environmental crimes.
» Formed the Hawaii Invasive Species Council.
» Implementing a long-range plan to improve small boat harbors.
» Approved rules to require 85 percent of gasoline in Hawaii to contain 10 percent ethanol by 2006.
» Simplified medical assistance applications that qualified an extra 7,500 poor children to get Medicaid health insurance.
» Set up the Nimitz Highway contraflow lane.
» Developed a five-year plan to distribute homestead land to native Hawaiian beneficiaries.



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