Do you know the Japanese film, Rashomon? It is the story of the rape of a woman and the murder of her husband told through the eyes of four different witnesses. Each has their own version of what happened, all different. Which is the truth? So, it is with Governor Lingle's speech last night to a group of Republican candidates. The Advertiser's blog, The Notebook, reported on it last night, and the YouTube version is on Hawaii Reporter. The Governor went into detail on two bills passed by the legislature. Here is the text of her remarks on each, followed by another perspective.
Governor Lingle: "Know that we worked so hard, and fortunately our Republicans were there at the legislature to make certain that we got passed a reduction in the unemployment insurance for every business in the state - went into effect January of this year. It will save businesses over three years, and it affects every business in the state, it will save them $151 million over a three year period and that is an improvement..."
Another perspective: This is the bill that Rep. Bob Nakasone, a Democrat, introduced and worked so hard to get passed in 2007. It's HB1500, which became Act 110. It does indeed save businesses $151 million for a three year period, but that is balanced by a temporary rise in the maximum weekly unemployment benefit to 75% of the weekly wage. It's noteworthy that the only NO votes against the bill were by Republicans - Rep. Colleen Meyer on third reading in the House, and Senators Hemmings, Trimble, Whalen, and Slom on third reading in the Senate.
Governor Lingle: "There was a bill in this session of the legislature to charge a new fee on all the cargo coming into the state both by air and by ship. This at a time when we're suffering from very high food prices, driven by world events, perhaps, driving up the average family's costs of eating, of surviving. And, so, the Democrats passed a law to make it more expensive to bring food into the state. I vetoed the bill, and yet they're so arrogant, they still don't care about the cost of living that families are dealing with today, and they actually overrode that veto and by overriding that veto what they said was we don't care that the price of food will go up because of this bill. We just don't care.
And the purpose of the bill is a good purpose, it's to fight invasive species, but our administration has spent more money than ever in history on invasive species. The fact is, the Department of Agriculture can't even hire enough inspectors - there aren't enough people with that background to take those positions, and yet they stepped forward and said we're going to make it even more expensive for families to buy our food, to feed our family."
Another perspective: You'd think this bill was a tax on food, not fighting invasive species. The Department of Agriculture testified in support of this bill, and did not mention anything about the ability to hire inspectors. The fee is only 50 cents for every thousand pounds of freight brought into the state; if folks can't afford to pay for groceries it will not be due to this new fee. (Obviously, Democrats do care about the cost of food, and by the way, they have families too.) The fee will go towards the establishment of a biosecurity program to help stop the importation of invasive species into the state. This administration has not focused on invasive species, and if it has spent more money than ever in history on invasive species, it is likely due to the legislature's focus on this issue and appropriation of the funds. The bill is HB2843.