Your editorial of Sept. 16, "Deficit strategy to test Lingle's leadership, mettle," makes some good points about the state budget "crisis," but lays the burden on Gov. Linda Lingle to lead us through the projected shortfall.
The House of Representatives also will take a major leadership role and has the political will to make the tough decisions necessary to balance the budget, even if unpopular with segments of the community.
During the economic downturn of the late 1990s and early 2000s, we approved such controversial actions as reforming the public employees' health benefit system, instituting a public employees' payroll lag, and requiring the Department of Commerce and Consumer Affairs to be financially self-sufficient through fees and charges imposed on regulated industries.
The House leadership is well aware that the budget will be the major issue facing state government.
In responding to your Voter's Guide question of "what's the No. 1 piece of legislation you'd work to pass in 2009?" my response is: "I would work to pass an executive budget bill that is balanced yet provides sufficient resources for public health and safety and public education without imposing new taxes on residents or businesses."
Majority Floor Leader Blake Oshiro's response is: "A balanced budget that ensures and provides for the needs of my community."
House Finance Committee Chair Marcus Oshiro's response is: "A balanced, two-year state budget that prioritizes education and healthcare above all other important and essential services and government functions."
Vice Speaker Pono Chong's response is: "Tax reform. I want to adjust our tax system to more fairly treat local taxpayers."
The House of Representatives will take a leadership role, jointly with the governor and Senate, to enact a balanced budget that maintains essential public services and avoids a deficit.
Rep. Calvin K.Y. Say
Speaker of the House
Thursday, September 25, 2008
Speaker's Letter on Budget Deficit
The Honolulu Advertiser, Letter to the Editor, September 25, 2008