State and County Budget Shortfalls: Governor Lingle using the County Mayors to squeeze the unions out of 278 million. Good luck!
The Lingle Budget:/Union Contracts/County TAT revenues-HB1744: I agree in part with the comments of HGEA's executive director Randy Perreria (who said the Governor needs to raise revenue, not just cut worker wages and benefits.
The unions are being set up by the Lingle Administration. The Governor is using the budget crisis to shove the unions up against the wall. I believe government workers would be willing to participate in fair reductions -- similar to reductions in department programs-- in the spirit of shared sacrifice. However the Governor has waited until the 11th hour to propose reductions, and the unions will now be under pubic pressure to cave into her demands regardless of whether they are reasonable or not. (Usually this close to the date the union contracts expire, negotiation terms are being finalized; this time the Administration has not met even once with the unions.
Specifically the Governor is now about to use the Counties and their Mayors to put the squeeze on the unions, by telling the Mayors she will fight the House Bill to take away the Counties Transient Accommodation Tax Revenues IF (and only if) they agree with her goal of reducing labor costs by $278 million. Lingle needs at least one Mayor to go along with her scheme before she can approach the unions. Well the mayors have been meeting and acting as a team, and until this week had not gotten any of the mayors to stand by her. But if it hasn't happened already, tomorrow, the 9th, the Governor will force the Mayors hand, and in turn seek to force the hand of the unions. Actually the Mayors do not need her assistance to keep the TAT revenues. Simply they need to stand firm with the Senate Amendment which effectively kills (for at least the coming year) the House Bill to usurp these TAT funds, which in fact allows the Counties to receive an addition 5 % of these revenues.
Randy Perreira made the same point that I made when testifying before the Senate Ways and Means Committee, to wit, that a key component necessary to address the budget shortfall has been ignored: initiating revenue generating measures. On March 27th, Georgina Kawamura presented the Lingle budget scenario, and there was not one new revenue generating measure included in that report.
As President Obama has repeatedly warned -you can't just cut programs and cut workers as the way to deal with a recession or depression, instead one must find the funds and implement programs to create jobs and new streams of revenue (not just raise taxes). Reckon the Governor has not heard any of those messages. For example pass the civil union bill if you want to dramatically raise the wedding tourism revenues, pass a high stakes bingo bill, pass an inheritance tax for the wealthiest estates, pass a tax of the rezoning of agricultural lands (rezoning is a paperwork reclassification that significantly ups the value), be aggressive about finding grants and aide and while those funds are sought borrow funds, pass a school impact fee bill, put more money into the one tourism segment that is still doing well eco-tourism and land based tourism. IN conclusion, I agree with HGEA's executive director since there are many ways to bring in income, but it seems the Governor prefers instead to gut the union contracts.
^A melodious thrush and some other residents from Waimea