January 13, 2002
Contact: Rep. Galen Fox
(808) 586-8520


Republicans Say Boldness Needed Now


House Republicans said today that their legislative package for the 2002 session would be highlighted by proposals to fix Hawaii's public education system and to create jobs for its people.

"We need to dispense with our business as usual attitude and seek real solutions to our spending, education, job creation, and social problems," said Galen Fox, House Republican Leader. "We need to attack the real basis of our economic crisis -- people just don't get to keep enough of their own money. We need to fix our public education system by breaking up the single statewide school system into local school districts."

Republicans said their package of bills will call for local school boards while preserving equitable statewide funding, and it will protect and nurture charter schools. The job creation efforts will include a commitment to help existing businesses, encourage business diversification, and deliver tax reform.

"We will be proposing a 'students first' program that places the education needs of our children before the needs of the bureaucracy or anyone else. This means basing school funding on student enrollment, it means local decision making through smaller elected district school boards, and it means clearly identifying responsibility by appointing a state superintendent," said Guy Ontai, (R-Mililani). "In the next week we will unveil a detailed plan for public consideration."

Rep. Barbara Marumoto (R-Waialae) said the Republican caucus would introduce two tax holiday bills -- one to take advantage of any retail tax holiday reimbursement from the federal government as well as a payroll tax holiday. "The payroll tax holiday gives an immediate raise to every working person and will inject much needed cash into our anemic economy," she said. "It is faster, more effective than any government spending program."

Rep. Jim Rath, (R-Kona) said private employees deserve a tax break -- actually a raise in their pay. "Our government employees got a raise and I think these workers think it fair to give all Hawaii taxpayers a raise," he said. "It lets the people keep more of what is rightfully their own money. And since eliminating the excise tax on food and medical services means a $150 raise for every person here -- well $600 a year for a family of four is a good raise."

Republicans also said the biggest challenge in the next session would be for lawmakers to break their habit of overspending. "We have had a depressed economy for over a decade. Yet while everyone else was struggling to make ends meet, our government increased its budget by 19% after adjusting for inflation. When times are tough, families cut expenses. Government must also learn to live within its means," said Galen Fox.

Fox said the caucus package will also seek to protect families from sexual predators living in their neighborhoods, call for a private drug treatment correctional facility, provide for environmental protection, and bring about campaign spending reforms.