October 8th, 2009 :: Permalink
Senator Hooser is requesting a special session to force our representatives to consider the merits of the proposed cuts. This is an excellent idea and precisely what we pay our leaders to do.
During the 2008 presidential debates between Uncle Barack and John McCain, the candidates were asked how they would go about trimming the federal budget. McCain advocated across the board cuts. Barack won the point with voters by claiming this method would be similar to using a hatchet. He advocated using a sharp scalpel instead.
Lingle's current plan results in a hatchet being used on our public system. Unions reacted to her demands by negotiating the best deal for their workers - not the best deal for the people of Hawai'i. In our haste to cut costs, we are slashing services across the board without considering the affects on families or without regard to the long term efficiency of state services.
In addition too many leaders and pundits do not understand the financial crisis that is plaguing us. As reported in the NY Times today, "The general belief among industry professionals is that until the job market improves, consumers will continue to pinch pennies and retailers will continue suffering."
This creates a "catch 22" cycle: Until the job market improves, consumers will not consume; yet until consumers begin to consume, the job market will not improve. What stops this downward cycle? Government must put money in the hands of consumers. Yet if the national government continues to push expansionary strategies while our 50 states are contracting, I believe we will mitigate our chances of pulling out of this in the near future.
Hooser's request represents the calm in the center of a hurricane. We have time. This is a two-year decision and we need to fully consider what we are doing, as the consequences will last decades.
I have personally advocated that our leaders request funds from Washington. Yesterday, although voting against the $800+ billion Recovery Act in January, Texas politicians, Kay Bailey Hutchison and John Cornyn, asked the Obama administration to give Texas $3 billion for NASA.
NASA is now "too big to fail," as were many of the companies that created the crisis we're battling. Some believe this government enterprise deserves more money. Others recognize the Texas politicians are simply trying to bail out their state as well.
Hawai'i doesn't need $3 billion. We need less than a billion. Due to the unique nature of our state, which makes us overly dependent on tourism, we have valid reasons to request federal help.
All options should be on the table. Senator Hooser is once again demonstrating why he is one of the state's top leaders. In a time of chaos and crisis, he is asking us to take a deep breath and come together to craft something reasonable and workable.
The future of our children matter; the integrity of our state services require that we do not make these changes in haste. The people of Hawai'i did not create this crisis - this originated on Wall Street. Yet the people of Hawai'i will live with the consequences of these decisions and we deserve that more attention be focused on these challenges.