Governor delivers state of the state address

Gov. Linda Lingle
Gov. Linda Lingle
Sen. Colleen Hanabusa
Sen. Colleen Hanabusa

By Mari-Ela David - bio | email

HONOLULU (KHNL) - A warning from Hawaii's Head of State - painful cuts are on the way as the state struggles to close its billion dollar budget deficit.

"Climbing our way out of this hole won't be easy. It won't be quick. It won't be without pain. But it will be done," said Governor Linda Lingle.

At the core of Governor Lingle's State of the State Address today - the budget and the economic crisis. She says 2009 will bring unprecedented financial challenges, and sacrifices that could result in severe cuts.

A harsh reality check from Governor Lingle, as the state faces a $1.8 billion deficit.

"This is a time of shared sacrifice when everyone must be willing to give up something," she said.

In her address, the Governor rolled out a list of potential cuts: including cuts to services, programs, state workers wages and benefits, and cuts to tax credits exemptions and deductions.

"Not because we want to, but because we can't afford business as usual," she said.

After the speech, some disappointment from Senate President Colleen Hanabusa.

"We've got a huge deficit for this fiscal year that we're in now that's got to have some way of being addressed and I did not hear any of those specifics," said Hanabusa.

The Governor says there are three ways to close the state's budget gap.

"One, on labor cost, two on taxes, and third is in budget which is services and programs to the public."

To help strengthen the economy, Governor Lingle outlined several goals: become oil-independent, buy more locally produced food, and solve the traffic mess.

Hanabusa and House Speaker Calvin Say plan to unveil their plan on tackling the budget deficit. They say they'll file the bills by Wednesday.

As for the controversy over ceded lands, which sparked heavy protests, the Governor stands her ground.

Governor Lingle appealed a Supreme Court ruling that stops the state from selling ceded lands until Native Hawaiian claims to those lands are settled.

"I believe it is in the best interest of all the people of Hawaii," she said.