June 20, 2003


Honorable Members

Twenty-Second Legislature

State of Hawaii

Pursuant to Section 16 of Article III of the Constitution of the State of Hawaii, I am returning herewith, without my approval, Senate Bill No. 745, entitled "A Bill for an Act Relating to Emergency Medical Services."

The purposes of this bill are to require the State to provide emergency aeromedical helicopter services statewide and to appropriate $611,500 for fiscal year 2004-2005 to the Emergency Medical Services System of the Department of Health for emergency aeromedical helicopter services for the County of Maui, with matching funds to be provided by the County of Maui. This bill further appropriates $388,500 for fiscal year 2004-2005 to the Emergency Medical Services System for the integration of additional ground ambulance services with the emergency aeromedical helicopter services.

This bill is objectionable because it requires the State through the Department of Health to establish emergency aeromedical helicopter services statewide, but without statewide funding. The State would be open to liability if emergency aeromedical helicopter services were not available to a person who needed them in a county other than Maui.

Through its appropriations, this bill also would impose a substantial financial burden on the State during a fiscally challenging time. While it truly would be wonderful to have emergency aeromedical helicopter services statewide, the State cannot spend money that it does not have.

The two-year budget recently passed by the Legislature is not balanced. The Legislature failed to include funding for the Hawaii Health Systems Corporation for the second year of the biennium. Such action would make sense only if one assumed that all state hospitals would be shut down one year from now. The challenge presented by this budget increased when the Council on Revenues on May 16 reduced the revenue projection for the current year and the upcoming biennium by $186.7 million. The combined impact of lower revenue projections and unrealistic assumptions by the Legislature has resulted in a budget deficit of more than $230 million.

The State must now make the hard choices to restrict spending and resist tax increases in order to create a healthy business climate that will lead to more and better-paying jobs and a quality standard of living for Hawaii's families. In short, we must begin to put our financial house back in order by doing all that we can to match recurring expenses with recurring revenues.

Decisions like the one to veto this bill are not easy, but they are necessary. Without fiscal discipline and prudent management of the budget now, it will be impossible to restore trust and integrity in government and expand and diversify the economy in the years ahead. This kind of tough decision is needed in order to achieve a true New Beginning for the people of Hawaii.

For the foregoing reasons, I am returning Senate Bill No. 745 without my approval.





Governor of Hawaii