”’Senate President Robert Bunda, D-Waialua, addressed the Hawaii State Legislature yesterday on the opening day of the legislative session. Here are his remarks.”’

Aloha and welcome to the 2005 regular session of the Hawai’i state Legislature.

My friends, it’s been a while since we’ve convened in an atmosphere of optimism about our economy. As we open our session, the national economy is strong and our local economy is enjoying steady growth fueled by tourism, construction, defense spending and agriculture. Each new quarterly report on tax revenues seems to validate confidence in our future.

But while we here in the Legislature may have reason to feel optimistic, what is the mood of people working to make a living beyond these chambers? Do our immediate concerns over a balanced budget line up in any way with the concerns of parents balancing their family checkbook? Perhaps, in this period of a relatively stable economic outlook, we legislators should look beyond the necessary but predictable legislative agenda. We will soon examine various proposals to deal with our traffic problems, our inadequate supply of affordable housing, environmental challenges and continued educational reform, to name a few.

Perhaps we need to adopt a guiding principle that will unify us in our work this session. A mantra, if you will. One that will help to put our work in perspective and make it more relevant to those who elected us. Rather than suggest it outright, let me illustrate it through the story of one individual living here in the islands. For the moment, let’s just call him “M.”

“M” is a young local boy who married his high school sweetheart. They have a 6-year-old son, with another child on the way. Both he and his wife have to work full-time just to make ends meet. Skyrocketing gas prices only made things worse

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