DOE budget discord fails taxpayers
Considering the political distance between the governor and the Legislature — the length of a football field, perhaps? — one would assume there would be plenty of room to meet in the middle.
Apparently, there isn't, at least not where the state education budget is concerned.
The House-Senate accord over the state budget directs federal stimulus dollars earmarked as educational stabilization funds to be used for education rather than for closing the budgetary gap as Gov. Linda Lingle wanted to do.
How much leeway the governor has with the stimulus funds is still unclear, but the point is that the legislative and executive branches could not come to any compromise over how to combine state and federal dollars for schools.
Where does that leave state government in general, and public education specifically? Right where it always is: without a rational spending plan.
Things will play out as they usually do. The Legislature will get the budget it wants, Lingle's veto notwithstanding. The governor will use her discretion to release the funds as she sees fit.
But because her priorities don't align with those of lawmakers, the taxpayer is left to watch education resources spent without a coherent strategy. Instead, spending keeps increasing, without a proportionate boost to school quality.
Hawai'i has grown accustomed — too accustomed — to the lack of efficiency and a unity of purpose for the benefit of its public school students. Just when this state needs most to pull together and plot a course through tough times, its elected officials fall short again. It's a travesty the kids can ill afford.