Full text of House Speaker Calvin Say's speech
Full text of Senate President Robert Bunda's speech
By Robbie Dingeman
Advertiser Capitol Bureau
The 21st state Legislature opened today with a modest agenda that hit the hot-button issues of education, taxes and government worker pay raises without proposing any revolutionary new approaches to solving them.
House Speaker Calvin Say (D-Palolo, St. Louis, Kaimuki) supported raising the minimum wage and considering some form of gambling to support long-term care. Say acknowledged after the speech that the Democratic majority opposes any form of gambling, so the proposal has no chance of passage this year.
Say also backed Gov. Ben Cayetanos plan to turn Kakaako into a viable center for research and education in high technology and biotechnology.
And Say called for the state to ease the skyrocketing costs of prescription drugs. Let us help the elderly among us by exploring methods to reduce drug costs and increase availability, such as joint buying programs or even tax credits.
House Republican leader Galen Fox (R-Waikiki, Ala Wai) called attention to the 19 members of his party, the largest group to sit in the state House after adding seven representatives in the last election.
Fox echoed the GOP election themes of locally elected school boards, reducing the size of government and eliminating the general excise tax on food, rent and medical services. Our excise-based tax structure hits low-income working people the hardest, people who have to buy food, pay rent and sometimes lack medical coverage.
Senate President Robert Bunda (D-Wahiawa, Waialua, Sunset Beach) proposed doubling the construction budget for school repair and maintenance from $50 million to $100 million. I believe we need to make a greater commitment to providing a safe learning environment for our children.
Senate Minority Leader Sam Slom (R-Waialae Iki, Hawaii Kai) said Republicans are calling for revolutionary change based on moral principles rather than political rhetoric. Some politicians have described their spending plans as visionary, but the public often views them more accurately as delusionary, Slom said.
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