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Tuesday, February 22, 2011
February 22, 2011 News Read
By Andrew Walden @ 1:52 PM :: 8211 Views :: Hawaii County News, Agriculture, Kauai County News, DHHL, Maui County News, Congressional Delegation, Honolulu County News, Democratic Party, Hawaii State Government, Republican Party

Budget: Facing massive deficit, Abercrombie hikes spending $728.6M

Gallup: Over 10% of Hawaii voters abandon Democratic Party, exodus among greatest in US

Freedom? SB218 would force all Hospitals to provide Abortion Pill

Hawaii Lost Fewer Manufacturing Jobs Over Past Year 

Abercrombie Budget rejects UHERO, uses $844M deficit figure, not $700M

The higher the deficit estimate, the better to sell tax increases.  “Never let a serious crisis go to waste.” — Rahm Emmanuel

Kalbert Young, the state’s budget director, explained that the council’s December forecast may have been too optimistic because it did not include lower-than-expected November tax collection figures. He said the administration would wait until the council’s next forecast in March to see if the revenue prediction holds up.

A note in the administration’s budget draft suggests that it may be difficult to attain the 3 percent growth rate the council projected for this fiscal year. Tax collections were down 2.8 percent through the first six months of the fiscal year, mostly due to the impact of Gov. Linda Lingle’s decision to delay state income tax refunds last year to reduce the deficit on paper.

Tax collections, according to the administration, would have to average 8.1 percent growth for the rest of the fiscal year to reach the projected amount.

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Governor's budget proposal calls for increased spending

Getting the state out of a massive budget hole will require a $700 million increase in state spending.  That's what's included in Governor Abercrombie's budget road map.  The governor says the increase is not new spending, that it's just restoring previous cuts and is required just to deliver basic services.  (blablabla)

The proposal includes about half billion dollars in new tax revenue -- much from repealing deductions and exemptions.

There's $400 million in spending cuts including the equivalent of one furlough day a month for public workers.

Some tax and cut measures have already met resistance at the Legislature as individual bills.

"We may not be hearing a soda tax bill or a bill that would take away the Medicare Part B (reimbursement) for retired seniors," said House Finance Chairman Rep. Marcus Oshiro.

The plan outlines hundreds of millions of additional federal dollars for capital projects and calls for more than a billion dollars in state bonds.

"The capital improvement projects are going to put everybody back to work," said Abercrombie.  (And yet Abercrombie does not believe UHERO’s numbers which project economic growth due to Obama’s stimulus.  So his own assumptions put the lie to his rationale for more spending.)

AP: Hawaii gov boosts spending in $5.7B state budget

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Pet Projects will soak up $98.3M in new spending

 

"If you look at what the previous administration did, I mean, that's hopeless. That wasn't a budget. That was a fiction," Abercrombie told reporters at a briefing at the state Capitol.

State House Minority Leader Gene Ward (R, Kalama Valley-Hawaii Kai) said it is unfair for Abercrombie to blame Lingle, who guided the state through the worst of the recession. "They were not structural wreckages. They were structural adjustments to a global financial meltdown," he said….

The draft also contains the governor's initiatives — $41.8 million worth in fiscal year 2012, $56.5 million in 2013 — for state programs he believes have been neglected.

The general-fund portion of the budget draft, over which Abercrombie and state lawmakers have the most control, is $5.7 billion for fiscal year 2012, a $133.8 million increase from December, and $5.9 billion in 2013, a $160.3 million increase. The general-fund spending increase is 2 percent higher in fiscal year 2012 and 3 percent more in 2013.  (TOTAL $294.1M)

Gov. Abercrombie has called for new or restored spending on state programs he believes were neglected. Here are the highlights:

  • $24.3 MILLION for student transportation, nursing services, charter schools and an Early Learning Council
  • $20 MILLION for community colleges and the University of Hawaii at Hilo
  • $17.1 MILLION for the Preschool Open Doors program and a new computer-based Medicaid eligibility system at the state Department of Human Services
  • $9.2 MILLION for the restoration of the Office of Juvenile Justice and Delinquent Prevention, maintenance costs and emergency management support at the state Department of Defense
  • $4.8 MILLION for the Hawaii Film Office, restoration of the community assistance branch and small-business research grants at the state Department of Business, Economic Development and Tourism

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Wasteful Flip-Flop: Abercrombie wants to close newly opened school convert into Prison

The state closed Kulani prison 15 months ago, its first Youth Challenge students arrived just last month.

But now, the Abercrombie administration told lawmakers it wants to turn Kulani back into a prison.

From a taxpayers perspective it may look like a wasteful flip-flop….

After the facility was closed in September 2009 and its 75 employees were laid-off or transferred, it took over a year to renovate Kulani into a Youth Challenge academy.

But now Kulani is a key component in new Gov. Neil Abercrombie's plan to bring Hawaii inmates home from mainland facilities. His public safety chief told lawmakers that reopening Kulani and expanding Waiawa Correctional Facility in central Oahu will provide all the minimum-security beds the state needs.

For your reading pleasure, here are the results of a Google search for “education not incarceration.”  Don’t be too surprised that a bunch of progressives are now saying “incarceration, not education”.  After all, the tree-huggers are now becoming tree-choppers by replacing plastic bags with paper bags.  Or, more to the point: “Two legs good, four legs better.”

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Democrat Advertiser fearful of Lingle’s call for inclusiveness

It was good to hear former Gov. Linda Lingle challenging her fellow Republicans to be more inclusive of religions other than Christianity, though it might have been more effective if she'd issued that charge back when she really had the bully pulpit, during her two terms in office.  (Nice try Advertiser.)

Lingle complained at Friday's Lincoln Day dinner that too many GOP functions ignore diversity and start only with Christian prayers. Statistics bear her out. Census figures from 2000 -- the most recent available on religions -- show Christians represent only some 29 percent of Hawaii's population.  (And now that Democrats have excluded Christians, they are afraid she will grab their base.)

But the ones who may feel most pointedly excluded at such invocations are those who aren't religious at all. At 51.1 percent, the "unaffiliated" is by far the largest group.

What a coincidence: Democrats 50% Republicans 30%

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Incompetent Democrat Angus McKelvey losing hose to Foreclosure

McKelvey also sits on the House Consumer Protection and Commerce Committee, where he gets first crack at housing foreclosure bills. There are several dozen at the 2011 Legislature, including several co-sponsored by KcKelvey.

Imagine, then, McKelvey's surprise when the lawmaker himself received a nonjudicial foreclosure notice on a home he shares with his mother in Lahaina. McKelvey signed the promissory note on the property, which is owned by his mother. It's nonjudicial foreclosures that have become the subject of scrutiny of attorneys general and consumer protection officials across the country….

(That makes him just like famous monopoly advocate, Hospital blocker, and child molester employer Sen. Roz Baker who ALSO lost a home to foreclosure.  And, lo and behold….)

McKelvey has made addressing foreclosures a priority, but rewriting state law on mortgage foreclosures is not just an issue in the House.

In the Senate, a half-dozen or more measures address many of the same issues as House legislation. Most are co-sponsored by Sen. Rosalyn Baker, who represents Senate District 5, covering South and West Maui: Makena, Wailea, Kihei, Maalaea, Lahaina, Kaanapali, Napili and Kapalua.

McKelvey also co-introduced two bills that would adjust state law on nonjudicial foreclosures, which is covered in Hawaii Revised Statues 667.

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North-South traffic lanes closed for rail groundbreaking event

KAPOLEI (HawaiiNewsNow) - Both mauka-bound lanes of North-South Road (Kualakai Parkway) between Kapolei Parkway and Farrington Highway will be closed from 5 a.m. to 5 p.m. Monday and Tuesday in preparation of the groundbreaking ceremony for the Honolulu Rail Transit Project.

Because of safety and security issues, the two mauka-bound lanes of North-South Road in Kapolei will be closed during the groundbreaking event set for Tuesday morning along the roadside.

(Great.  Two days of traffic jams so some politicians can pretend to dig in the dirt.)

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IMG Chairman Cautions Clients on Federal Funding Availability for Rail

IMG Chairman Steve Steckler told Civil Beat in an e-mail that he's now reaching out to his clients over concerns about how the federal budget fight will affect them.

"Any state or local transportation project — whether a transit rail New Start or high speed rail project — that is dependent upon a discretionary or earmarked allocation of federal funds, should now be thinking about how they will raise most of that money locally, because there is simply no way that the Obama administration and its appointees at the US Department of Transportation will be able to overcome the purse-strings power now in the hands of House Republican deficit hawks," Steckler wrote. "We are advising all of our government transportation clients to take this issue very seriously, and to take the appropriate steps now, regardless of what they may be hearing from Obama appointee. Unfortunately (sic), those appointees are no longer the decision makers."

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State Still Trying to Raid City's Rail Coffers

Tsutsui says Gov. Neil Abercrombie called the idea a "win-win" because the state would pay back the $200 million with an added $100 million. There was debate on either side when the Senate's Public Safety, Government Operations, and Military Affairs Committee advanced the measure last week.

Sen. Will Espero said he likes having the option to raid the rail fund in case other revenue ideas flop. Sen. Sam Slom likened it to stealing from the city, and said he wasn't keen on paying an extra $100 million in bonds as part of a total $300 million pay back.

"How can I get a deal like that?" Slom asked.

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More Federal Funds?  That’s Schatz’ job now, says Abercrombie

Schatz, 38, a four-term veteran of the state House, has been given two jobs: Start looking for federal money for Hawaii and coordinate the state's involvement with the upcoming Asia-Pacific Economic Cooperation meeting.

Schatz reports that working with the state Defense Department, an extra $80 million in military construction money has been secured, and that he is involved with planning for the economic summit.

"We think there will be a lot of eyes on Hawaii and a fair amount of investment capital, so we want to tell the rest of the world what we are doing," Schatz says.

First order of business will have to be a resolution to the homeless shanty town that has sprung up along Nimitz Highway coming in from the airport. Unless something is done, the sight of hundreds of shopping carts, tarps and tents will be the first impression Asian leaders get of Hawaii.

"We understand how important it is to have a clean city when APEC begins in November. We are committed to making sure that the APEC visitors see a clean and humane city," Schatz said, adding that he is helping to organize a city-state meeting on the issue of homelessness.

Photo: Schatz hanging out in Larry Mehau’s Barn

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Kalapa: Tax credits, stimulus magnify boom-bust cycle

Despite the fact that the state budget continues to grow and lawmakers are scrounging for every last penny to balance the state general fund budget, members of the legislature continue to introduce legislation to provide tax incentives that they hope will stimulate certain parts of the economy. As if in deja vu, some lawmakers have reintroduced the idea of providing a tax credit for residential renovation and construction as a way to get construction workers back on the job. The first coming of this idea occurred right after 9/11 when construction came to a screeching halt as the world stood still in the aftermath of that tragedy.

Although some may claim that the previous tax credit incentive "jump started" construction activity especially in the wake of 9/11, looking back there is general agreement that the tax credit created artificial dislocations in the economy, creating demand that exceeded the industry’s ability to respond, sending labor and material costs beyond reasonable limits. The result is that in the years following the termination of the credit, the cost of construction exceeded reasonable levels.

As a result, when the credit markets froze following the debacle of the subprime lending, the cost of construction was so high that there was insufficient latitude in the availability of credit to meet and absorb the demand and higher costs of construction. Thus, construction activity came to a screeching halt again as there was insufficient credit capacity to keep projects going.

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Honolulu Mayor Lacks Key Overtime Info For Budget

Honolulu's antiquated information systems mean the mayor lacks some crucial tools to make informed decisions. Carlisle has said he's determined to eliminate furloughs for city workers in the budget he'll present next week. But Civil Beat found that the city doesn't know how much furloughs cost, because it can't retrieve information about overtime on furlough days

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Republicans honor former senator, author for service

HONOLULU - State Republicans honored Mauian Fred Rohlfing with their Lincoln Legacy Award at the annual party dinner held in connection with Abraham Lincoln's birthday Friday at the Hilton Hawaiian Village on Oahu.

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Student news network debuts this week

HONOLULU (HawaiiNewsNow) - If you've ever wondered what Hawaii's middle and high school students think is important you'll soon find out.  In what will be a first in the nation a "student news network" debuts this week on PBS Hawaii.

LINK: http://www.pbshawaii.org/hikino/index.php

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SA: Make DoE into giant Fat Farm

The new wellness rules will ban the sale or distribution of food and beverages with sugar as the first ingredient or with more than 200 calories per serving or at least 8 grams of fat. Soda vending machines have been removed from Hawaii's high schools, but only two of the state's 224 public schools reported that they already have engaged in a total ban.

The rules call for physical education classes lasting 55 minutes weekly for fourth- and fifth-graders and 200 minutes a week for grades 6-12. In past years, alas, no P.E. has been required of sixth- through 12th-graders -- a key ingredient in ranking Hawaii among the 11th worst states in meeting requirements recommended by the National Association of Sport and Physical Education. The association calls for 150 minutes of P.E. weekly for elementary schoolchildren and 225 minutes at middle schools.

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NLRB upholds decision against Hawaii Tribune-Herald

The decision details how the Hawaii Tribune-Herald unlawfully issued a written warning to circulation clerk Koryn Nako for bringing a union representative into the company’s facility without the management’s permission. The company also unlawfully suspended reporters Hunter Bishop, David Smith and Peter Sur, according to the National Labor Relations Board ruling. Bishop and Smith were later unlawfully discharged, according to the decision. The Hawaii Tribune Herald must now pay the three men for lost wages and benefits, as well as offer Bishop and Smith their jobs back.

REALITY: “From Hack to Flack”: the Big Island newspaper-Democrat revolving door

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Obamacare Preview: HHCP employees’ paychecks bouncing

Overcome with frustration, seven current and former employees of a Kaua‘i home healthcare provider have come forward to say their employer is not paying them in a timely manner and banks are not cashing their paychecks due to insufficient funds.

Employee-provided documents show a history of bounced checks, and they say their employer has not attempted to rectify matters. They also say the employer is making partial or no payments for hours worked dating as far back as November 2010.

Carolyn Frutoz-de Harne, who owns Hawai‘i HealthCare Professionals, said financially it has been a bad year for her business. She blamed a difficult economy, delayed and reduced Medicare (Obamacare preview) and insurance reimbursements, internal accounting problems and poor business account services at banks.

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Expert: $5 gas in Hawaii not unreasonable to expect

"We already saw today the spike in oil prices. We were up four or five percent, $4.00 or so on the barrel. And that in itself is going to equate to higher gas prices. And it will be instead of four or five percent on the oil price, we'll see like ten percent on the gas price," Havre said.

And with average prices headed north towards four dollars a gallon, where will it stop?

"Most definitely, we saw the last time we had a big disruption in the oil supplies and people were really concerned we got up to $140 a barrel," Havre said. "I'm paying right now, because I have to put premium in my car, but I'm paying $3.89. So, yeah $5 is not unreasonable."

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Sustainability vs. Environmentalism: Why It’s, Sadly, Not The Same Thing

(Mufi’s Atomic Monkey, Keith Rollman likes biofuel and doesn’t like the critics.) A recent example is the negative reaction of two long-time environmental advocates to HECO’s proposed use of palm oil, a renewable, “green” fuel, to offset our dependency on fossil fuel as our primary power supply.

Henry Curtis from Life of the Land doesn’t like palm oil and claims that it is responsible for deforestation and loss of natural habitats. So, he fights it, although he and everyone else support the concept of ending our dependency on fossil fuels. Which everyone agrees is much worse.

HECO responds that its supplier, Sime Darby, is a certified sustainable supplier who advocates responsible stewardship of the environment.

Curtis implies they are just “gaming the system” and wants to talk about the dwindling habitat of the Sumatran Tiger. Never mind the poachers who are really killing off this species, it’s the corporations like Sime Darby who are the bad guys, whether or not Sumatran Tigers ever roamed their palm plantations.

Another surprising negative came from Jeff Mikulina, ex-director of the Sierra Club and who is now with the Blue Planet Foundation. Blue Planet is all about ending our dependency on oil and decries the global warming these fuels have brought on.

However, when it comes to actually doing something, Mikulina sounds more like the old Sierra Club obstructionist. Mikulina says that HECO using palm oil, or any biofuel, will divert it from where it would be most efficient… transportation fuels.

(Mikulina and Curtis are right.  Bio fuel is a big scam.) 

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'Questionable' Maui charity heads for Nashville

While organizers of Stay Strong Nation tout their mission of building a 42-acre, $20 million post-traumatic stress and traumatic brain injury treatment center, some experts are questioning the charity's abilities and effectiveness.

Stay Strong Nation, based in Maui, Hawaii, is set to embark on a mainland fundraising campaign that will target several U.S. cities, including Nashville. Other stops will include Florida, Nevada, New Jersey and Iowa.

The charity's two main organizers include a maintenance worker at a resort hotel and former Vietnam veteran; the other is a music promoter and tour bus operator.

SA: Maui charity called 'questionable'

LINK: http://staystrongnation.org/

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Disney Aulani to open August 29

Probably the most corrupt Disney resort ever.

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