April 12, 2002
Contact: Rep. Marcus Oshiro
Phone: (808) 586-8505






A House Democratic leader today expressed his disappointment at the Republican Minority's lack of commitment to real, bipartisan cooperation despite their promise to do so after the September 11 terrorist attacks.

"More and more, we are witness to their voracious appetite for political glory, taking sole credit for results that very honestly would have failed if not for open-minded Democratic willingness," said House Majority Leader Marcus Oshiro. "It's lately been very obvious."

He pointed to the failed attempt by the Hawaii State Teachers Union to establish its own health plan as the most recent example.

"This bill would undo the reform of the Public Employees Health Fund that we passed just last year. The whole issue was to remedy the situation where separate health plans were contributing to runaway costs that would have required the State to pay $1 billion a year for employee health benefits by the year 2013," Oshiro said.

He specifically criticized Republicans who switched positions, a move that pleased the big gallery of HSTA onlookers. "Last year, Representatives Fox, Djou, Auwae, Moses, and Meyer voted for the health fund reform. Yet yesterday, they flip-flopped and backed the HSTA position that would undo the reform. They got a lot of applause, but do they really stand for anything?"

Oshiro also cited the House's decision to finally repeal the State's traffic camera program as another example. "For Democrats, the issue was how to curb excessive speeding and make our highways safer without incurring the enormous cost of hiring a battalion of new police officers," Oshiro said, adding that Democrats agreed to a repeal only after it became apparent that nothing could salvage the current program.

House Republicans quickly issued a statement patting themselves on the back.

"We never saw it as a partisan issue. Look at the support the repeal got from Democrats in the Senate. But the House GOP wants to make it partisan," Oshiro said. "Maybe in trying to be more bipartisan, Democrats are being a little naïve and too gracious."

He said that since the beginning of session, Democratic committee chairs have bent over backwards to entertain Republican ideas. "When we have agreed with ideas that are sound and rational, they are quick to claim sole credit. When problematic ideas are deferred for closer study, they accuse us of delaying. This politicizing of every issue is so unnecessary because we've proven time after time that we're willing to work with them."

Gov. Ben Cayetano was not so magnanimous in his April 4 statement vilifying Republican lawmakers for "proffering half-baked, unrealistic ideas at a time when the State is facing a significant budget crisis."

Cayetano said the GOP has broken its promise to set politics aside and find ways to solve the State's fiscal challenges.

However, Oshiro said he is not ready to abandon efforts to work together. "The problems we face are bigger than all of us. I think we can all show true leadership by taking action to weather this temporary slump and get the State back on track to sustained economic growth."


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