By Lt. Governor Duke Aiona
As the current economic conditions took a further toll on the Big Island, the 2009 legislative session offered little comfort.
The legislature voted to impose almost $521 million in new taxes on residents and visitors. It was just one in a flurry of moves that will slow economic recovery and lead to greater job losses.
Most troubling was that legislators did not have to raise taxes on our businesses and hard-working families. Our Administration provided them with a credible alternative to closing the state’s budget gap without raising taxes, cutting essential services or laying off government workers.
Instead, legislators chose not to pass a far-reaching set of proposals meant to create jobs and pave a path towards economic recovery.
Those proposals included building a broadband network system as part of a major initiative to spawn manufacturing, construction and technology jobs.
Unfortunately, the legislature failed to approve this initiative that was based on a two-year legislative effort to improve high-speed Internet services in our state and bring Hawai‘i into the digital age.
Legislators also failed to approve the “Recreational Renaissance” plan, a major proposal created by our Department of Land and Natural Resources to revive state parks, trails and ocean recreational areas for outdoor enthusiasts, who enjoy everything from fishing and hunting, to boating and camping, to hiking and swimming.
These proposals would have boosted our economy by maintaining and creating new jobs. But legislators chose to ignore our proposals and our offer to work collaboratively in finding solutions to the challenges facing our state.
Our Administration is committed to moving forward with these important initiatives using the resources we have, and will continue to seeks ways to improve the quality of life for all the people of Hawai‘i.
Meanwhile, the governor has until July 14 to sign, veto or allow bills to become law without her signature. We are reviewing the 250 bills passed during the 2009 legislative session.
As part of the review process, our Administration is encouraging public comment on the proposed legislation. Comments can be faxed to (808) 586-0006 or e-mailed to firstname.lastname@example.org