BY JIM DOOLEY –In austere and abbreviated fashion, the Hawaii House of Representatives opened for business this morning, with Speaker Calvin Say stressing economic issues in his opening address.
“I am glad and relieved to say we will probably not have to make another extraordinary effort to balance the state budget,” said Say, D-20th (St. Louis Heights, Palolo Valley, Maunalani Heights, Wilhelmina Rise, Kaimuki).
But the state’s economic recovery is fragile and a “balanced and responsible” approach to enacting a budget is necessary, the Speaker said.
“Maintaining stability means no new taxes for state government from residents and business,” he said.
He also promised “no major general fund appropriation increase for the expansion of state programs.”
Say broadly outlined his “dream” goals for lawmakers to work toward:.
- Development of alternative energy sources.
- Expansion of internet broadband resources so that, eventually, will cover “all schools, businesses and homes.”
- Universal and affordable health care.
- Elimination of billion-dollar debts accruing in the funds that pay for government worker pensions and health care.
But he cautioned that the goals can’t be reached this year, given the budgetary realities of the Capitol.
He said groundwork can be laid for the grand goals, but tangible progress must wait until “the economy and public resources return to robust growth.”
House Minority Leader Rep. Gene Ward, R- 17th(Kalama Valley, Queen’s Gate, Hawaii Kai), offered a “four-point recovery of
confidence” plan for this legislative session, which runs through the first week of May.
The plan, he said, would “create jobs, put a check on spending, insure more overall government accountability and transparency and protect our community from organized crime.”
Ward said the last category was a reference to “online cyber crime.”
Today’s session opened with Rep. Tom Okamura, D- 33rd (Aiea, Halawa Valley, Halawa Heights, Aiea Heights) being sworn into office.
Okamura was appointed when incumbent Blake Oshiro left office to work as Gov. Neil Abercrombie’s deputy chief of staff.