October 22, 2001
Contact: Rep. Galen Fox
Tel.: 586-8520

GOP: Focus On Economy, Governor Doesn't Need More Power

Republican House members said today that they favor a special session to focus on economic recovery, but do not favor granting the Governor broad sweeping powers.

"In this special session we will be helping people who lost their jobs by extending unemployment benefits and providing temporary health insurance," said Rep. Galen Fox (R- Waikiki). "But we abdicate our responsibility as representatives if we grant the Governor the powers he is asking for."

Rep. Charles K. Djou (R – Kaneohe, Kahaluu) said the caucus was concerned about the direction the special session is taking. "Too much has been done behind closed doors and the proposal to empower the Governor to suspend any state law, rule or regulation at his sole discretion borders on dictatorial," said Djou. "We support open dialogue and open government. The process so far has seen none of that."

Republicans said the special session must also address the need to stimulate local spending through tax relief. "In difficult economic times, government cannot abandon its citizens. Unless we provide tax relief for our citizens, we have abandoned them. We have told them you must survive this bad economy by yourself, and that is wrong," said Rep. Mark Moses (R – Kapolei). To help all our citizens, the legislature needs to suspend the 4% excise tax on food. As Moses noted, "Everyone eats, everyone pays the tax on food, everyone will benefit from suspending the food tax. This kind of tax relief helps people reduce their cost for one of their most basic needs-the need to eat."

Rep. Mindy Jaffe (R – Kaimuku, Kapahulu) said the economic downturn in the visitor industry puts businesses and especially small businesses at risk and Republicans support various proposals to help them. "We would like to see a one week 'tax holiday' on retail sales of purchases of under $100 to help encourage spending," she said. "We have been speaking to our constituents and we all agree the tax holiday is something that will help stimulate spending and the economy."