Opening day will be austere
The state House and Senate will open the new 60-day session of the Legislature this morning with scaled-back speeches that will focus on the state's $1.2 billion budget deficit.
Both chambers plan public sessions that are to start at 10 a.m.
The public is invited to view the sessions from the House and Senate galleries — like any daily session at the state Capitol — but traditional Opening Day flowers, music and receptions have been canceled in the spirit of austerity.
Instead, several committees have scheduled briefings in the afternoon, including discussions on aging, commerce and consumer protection, health information technology, the University of Hawai'i, capital improvement projects, and federal stimulus money.
The state has projected a $1.2 billion budget deficit through June 2011.
State House Speaker Calvin Say, D-20th (St. Louis Heights, Pälolo Valley, Wilhelmina Rise), and state House Minority Leader Lynn Finnegan, R-32nd (Lower Pearlridge, 'Aiea, Hälawa), are expected to address the House today.
State Senate President Colleen Hanabusa, D-21st (Nänäkuli, Mäkaha), and state Sen. Sam Slom, R-8th (Kähala, Hawai'i Kai), are expected to speak in the Senate.
The session is scheduled to adjourn April 29, a week earlier than usual. Lawmakers trimmed the number of recess days to shorten the legislative timetable and help direct attention on the budget.