Thursday, July 09, 2009
Class war in Hawaii—the battle over who gets shafted to balance the budget
by Larry Geller
The state budget discussion on the blogs is far more perceptive and relevant IMHO than the commercial media coverage. Don’t miss Ian Lind today. I’ve pointed out that the responsibility for balancing the budget appears to rest with the governor, so where IS her plan?
Lingle talked about a balanced budget but never actually submitted one will all the blanks filled in. Now she seems to be doing the same thing with contract talks, pressing the unions to come up with a solution on their side.
As at the federal level, this really is a class war. The bankers have been bailed out in extreme haste and are paying each other obscene bonuses again. Their business has been saved. At the same time, “Main Street” is forgotten: foreclosures have accelerated, GM workers will watch their jobs outsourced to Mexico and later perhaps to China, and job losses continue.
While Congress and the rich have great medical plans, we’ll be lucky if our healthcare system survives the “cure” that they are planning for it. No, Congress is not thinking of us as much as saving the profits of the health insurance industry that in turn lines their own pockets with contributions.
Back here in Hawaii, foreclosure notices clog the legal pages. Lingle won’t support raising taxes, although upper income earners have had the advantage of large tax cuts in recent years. It can be considered raising taxes or it can be considered to be a reversal of prior generosity to expect the upper ranks to contribute more.
There are alternatives that might be helpful, at least in part, to balance the budget. I don’t have the solution, only some thoughts:
1) Yes, take back some of the tax breaks.
2) Put the brakes on the failed war on drugs
3) End incarceration of simple drug offenses and provide treatment instead. This would end the shipment of prisoners to private Mainland prisons and save huge chunks of our budget now wasted.
4) End expensive litigation such as the present Aloha Tower case.
I’m sure readers could come up with other, even better, alternatives.
Speaking generally, how about this plan to work on the burgeoning budget deficit: Linda Lingle orders up some pizza and invites legislators to come upstairs and talk story. Maybe invite an economist or two (and to Ian, based on his article today: no, I don’t think they have computer models, I’ve asked in the past). Even without their computers, it won’t hurt to have an economist or two around. The way things are going, they might come just for the pizza.
She should do this as often as necessary. Pepperoni one day, mushrooms and Italian sausage the next, vegetarian options every day. Until a plan emerges.
If she did that, or walked downstairs to visit key legislators and hold meetings, she might be able to come up with a budget plan of her own. As it is, she’s isolating herself up in her plush 5th floor offices, unable to do the job she was elected to. IMHO, of course.
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