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The Honolulu Advertiser

Posted on: Friday, October 18, 2002

Campaign brochures aren't entire campaign

As did her Republican opponent before her, Democrat Mazie Hirono has taken the useful step of putting together, in one package, a summary of what she intends to do if she is elected governor.

And as with the booklet prepared by Linda Lingle, the Hirono production contains a little bit that is new, a little bit familiar and some repackaging of standard themes.

Both the Hirono plan — which focuses on her proposed first 100 days in office — and Lingle's "A New Beginning for Hawai'i" booklet — are useful as far as they go.

But they still add up to far less than the specific, innovative and — yes, risky — ideas that the voters are clearly hungering for.

The biggest news in Hirono's plan was her proposal for a reduction in the capital gains tax, a plank often occupied by Republicans. Hirono says such a tax cut would help stimulate business in the Islands, and it might.

But she'll need to flesh out how she can propose a tax cut in the first 100 days of a new administration at the same time she proposes boosting spending on education.

The money will come by growing the economy, Hirono says. That's a hopeful but far from concrete thought.

Lingle has a similar problem. She wants to restore tax credits for food and eliminate the excise tax on medical services and products, but at what cost? Many of Lingle's ideas will cost money, and those tax changes, no matter how one cuts it, will reduce tax income for the state.

Voters interested in a contrast between Hirono and Lingle can find at least strong division within the two documents: Lingle proposes decentralizing governance of the school system to seven locally elected school boards while Hirono is opposed to decentralization.

That's a start. What's needed now are more specifics, more hard facts on how the changes (or lack of changes) in governance would look in practice and how our school system would benefit.

It's encouraging that the candidates are beginning to set out their agenda in black and white. But that is only a start in producing the kind of real ideas for change that the voters will reward at the polls.