Public Schools Top Priority for Legislative Session

(KHNL)  Public school repairs top the Democrats' list of things to do with the state's $574 million budget surplus.

"There is no reason why we cannot provide stable financial support to enable the DOE to systematically eliminate its repair and maintenance backlog," said Senate President Robert Bunda.

Speaker of the House Rep. Calvin Say added, "I always say think about our kids sitting in a classroom where the roof is leaking, without a decent cafeteria, without enough books in the library."

Governor Linda Lingle said the public schools already have money for repairs, they just aren't using it properly.

"To have any school today in the state of Hawaii with a bathroom that's not functioning is not using money the best way possible," Lingle said.

While Bunda called for reforming state income taxes, there was no mention of tax relief in speeches by Democrats in the House.

"I think it showed an insensitivity to what thousands of families across the state face who are living paycheck to paycheck," Lingle said.

Republicans targeted the state's gas cap, saying it must go.

"The nation's only gas cap has not, I repeat has not resulted in benefits to you the people of Hawaii," said Senate Minority leader Fred Hemmings.