As printed in the Waialae-Kahlala #3 Neighborhood Board Report from Senator Sam Slom, October 20, 2011.
State Budget in Dire Straits
A Capitol panel on October 11, sponsored by the House Republicans, with Sheila Weinberg of the Chicago Institute for Truth in Accounting, State Budget Director Kal Young, former Council of Revenues Chair, Paul Brewbaker and Maui Chamber of Commerce President Pamel Tumpap spoke on various issues and concerns regarding the State Budget.
If you thought Hawaiiʼs spending and debt crisis is bad; itʼs worse than you thought. Weinbergʼs organization identified Hawaii as a “sinkhole” state and ranked Hawaii 47th worst in the Nation. Mr. Young stated that the State Employee Retirement System (ERS) and the Hawaii Employee-Union Health Benefits Trust Fund (EUTF) are “problematic, unfunded obligations”.
Budget impacts from education and human services will put more burden on the state and the taxpayers.
The Senate Republican caucus will be refining its alternate state budget in the coming months and during the 2012 session.
Lawsuits Filed after Redistricting
The Hawaii State Reapportionment Commission is being sued after the final redistricting plans finalized last month. The Reapportionment Commission also voted on a revision to State Senate staggered terms which is based on a formula based on population. For the 8th district the State Senate term will be 4 years after 2012.
Despite the apparent finality of the commissionʼs redistricting work, two lawsuits have been filed against the Reapportionment Commission on the issues of residency and the constitutionality of its decision. Basically some politicians and people on the Big Island want another senatorial district.
Redistricting maps were redrawn last month to extract some but not all military populations residing in the state. The U.S. Census Bureau includes all of the military in the official census count. Most of the states count their military, prison and student populations during the redistricting process.
Outspoken critics who opposed counting everyone continually forced the issue eventually getting the council to reconsider their original 8 to 1 vote to include the entire population and go with one of 3 population extraction plans (Extraction A). The opponents cited a 1992 state constitutional amendment as the basis for their opposition in hopes of getting a new Senate district for the Big Island. With extraction A, that did not happen.
Several individuals stated that the legislature needs to define what a “permanent resident” is in order to have clarity on the issue at the next reapportionment 10 years from now. Legislation to correct some of the issues brought up during the reapportionment process may be drafted for the upcoming session.
Current redistricting plans can be viewed on the commissionʼs website at: http://hawaii.gov/elections/reapportionment/
Hawaii State Legislature Website Gets a Major Makeover
The Hawaii State Legislatureʼs website at www.capitol.hawaii.gov is getting a major makeover this weekend in an attempt to make the site easier to use and packed with more features.
Among some of the new major features will be the ability to do just about everything from the home page. Users will be able to get bill status, search by keyword, get hearing notices by date, pick up the order of the day, search the Hawaii Revised Statutes, submit testimony, and s e t up personalized bill tracking with notes and custom bill lists all from links on the home page. Users will be able to set up their own accounts and keep their legislative information (like custom bill lists) online. Frequent testifiers will not have to enter basic information every time they send in new testimony with a user login. The options, links and information are plentiful complete with an archive (like before) that goes back to 1999.