Have you noticed how intensely state officials are eyeing that growing state surplus? They are making their lists and checking them twice as they sharpen their focus on just how many ways they can spend it.

Spend it on education, shorten that list of backlogged maintenance projects, repair the aging infrastructure, or take care of the homeless. Opinions in some of the media seem to support this all out spending of the surplus with one editorial writer characterizing this spending as an “investment” in the future of Hawaii. How soon we forget that just over 15 years ago that was the very mindset of state officials faced with such a large surplus.

That period of wild spending was likened to a drunken sailor and was looked back upon by legislators with wistful hopes as they struggled to fix the economy with all sorts of gimmicks just prior to the 1998 re-election of the governor. At that time, policymakers acknowledged that one sure way to fix the economy was to reduce the heavy burden of taxes for which Hawaii had gained a national reputation.

But alas, 1998 was the deepest of the state

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