HAWAIIAN REPUBLICANS PROVIDE STARTING POINT FOR CLOSING $1.3 BILLION BUDGET SHORTFALL

The House Republican Caucus unveiled a proposed starting point for closing the $1.3 billion gap in Hawaii’s state budget.

“We are releasing the budget today based on our guiding principles of not further burdening our residents with additional tax increases and not adversely impacting the economy,” stated Rep. Kymberly Pine of Ewa Beach.

“We are concerned about recent statements by the Senate to increase the GET. And the governor is proposing to raid the entire Hurricane Relief Fund. House Republicans are showing you can balance the budget without these raids or tax increases,” Rep. Pine added.

The state is facing an immediate gap of over $200 million between now and June 30, 2011. The Republican Caucus proposals include tapping into the rainy day fund, borrowing about $47 million from the Hurricane Relief Fund, postponing tax refunds and retaining the 50-50 split on health care premiums for public employees.

The governor released $67 million to the Dept of Education and made promises to pay more for public employee health care. Rep. Gil Riviere of the North Shore noted, “As a member of the House Finance Committee, I am concerned that we lost the opportunity to use $10 million in private funds to help balance our school budget when the governor prematurely released rainy day money.”

“For the biennium budget we agree with our House Finance Committee colleagues to cut Governor Abercrombie’s budget by nearly a quarter of a billion dollars,” stated House Republican Caucus leader Rep. Gene Ward. “We also propose a combination of spending cuts and revenue enhancements, including continuing the 2-day a month furlough for non-education personnel.”

Rep. Barbara Marumoto of Kaimuki, who also sits on the House Finance Committee, pointed out that the House Republicans balance the budget without resorting to a long list of tax and fee increases proposed by the Majority party. “We need to take responsible, prudent actions to restructure government rather than relying on tax hikes,” Rep. Marumoto pointed out. “That is what the Republican budget starts to do.”

“To encourage the public to participate in the budget balancing effort, the House Republican Caucus has put its budget online, along with other options to reduce spending,” noted Rep. George Fontaine of Maui. “The public can go to http://www.HawaiiStatebudgetOnLine.com to see our worksheets and make their own choices.”

“Our caucus felt it was important for us to democratize the budgeting process,” noted Rep. Aaron Ling Johanson of Moanalua Gardens. “Our state is facing a difficult time, and as legislators, we know that sometimes the best answers are with the people. Everyone should be a part of these decisions.”

The House Republican Caucus is Minority Leader Gene Ward, Minority Floor Leader Kymberly Marcos Pine, Minority Policy Leader Barbara C. Marumoto, Assistant Minority Leader Cynthia Thielen, Assistant Floor Leader Corinne W.L. Ching and Minority Whips, Representatives George Fontaine, Aaron Ling Johanson, and Gil Riviere.

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