For Monday, September 6, 2010
POSTED: 1:30 a.m. HST, Sep 6, 2010
When the economic crisis has passed (as it surely will), a renovated Queen Kamamalu Building should make an excellent home for the Department of Business, Economic Development and Tourism, and the Department of Budget and Finance now housed at No. l Capitol Place.
When that happens, it will be possible to expand the Hawaii State Art Museum's galleries to upper floors with more display space, classrooms and hands-on art and performance rooms for kids of all ages — and perhaps low-rent offices for culture and the arts nonprofits.
When the iconic Hawaii State Capitol building was designed by John Carl Warnecke in the late 1960s, his plan for the district included a vibrant arts and culture center to draw residents and visitors to this glorious Spanish Mission-style building (on the National Register of Historic Properties since December 1978). Some day, his dream — and ours — will come true.
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Hawaii has waited too long for commuter rail. With federal money already authorized to fund the construction of the 20-mile rail line from east Kapolei to Ala Moana, Sen. Daniel K. Inouye is right to express indignation at Gov. Linda Lingle's delay in approving the project ("Time short for Lingle's call on rail," Star-Advertiser, Aug. 26).
The benefits of this commuter line are numerous: It would reduce the severe traffic congestion on the H-1 in Honolulu, create much-needed jobs and give commuters a faster and more convenient alternative to driving to work.
It's unfortunate that Gov. Lingle is willing to make Oahu residents wait longer for this key project. Due to inflation, the longer it takes to begin construction, the greater the project's costs. As Sen. Inouye points out, the project even could lose its federal funding if it is not started soon.
Residents of Honolulu should join Sen. Inouye in demanding that Gov. Lingle sign off on the project immediately.
It is interesting to see so many who do not want an independent review of the rail financial plan.
From January 2007 through June 2010, approximately $535 million has been collected from the 1/2 -percent rail excise tax. In order to fully fund the existing plan, it will require an annual 8.5 percent increase in tax revenues until the tax expires the end of 2022.
If we look at the history of actual excise tax collections for the period from 1995 through 2008, the average annual increase was 4.2 percent.
How realistic is it that the yearly tax collections will more that double the growth of the prior 13-year period?
The assumptions utilized in the financial plan are not obtainable.
I recently read that the growth rate for the U.S. economy has gone from more than 3 percent last year to 2.4 percent last quarter and is expected to be even lower for the third quarter.
The trend seems clear. Yet the Obama administration's response to this trend and the current indicators of continued recession and record unsustain- able deficits is that it was the implementation of Bush economic policies that got us into this mess.
I think that most people know that it is Congress which votes for and enacts economic policy and regulations. I think most people know that the Democrats controlled Congress for the last two years of the Bush administration.
I also think that most people know that Obama was a U.S. senator during those last two years and voted for the very same economic policies that he now claims is Bush's fault.
I guess some believe it may be worthwhile to not take responsibility if they think most people would not know the difference.
If Queen Liliuokalani School (QLS) is closed, those students will be sent to either Liholiho or Waialae elementary schools, increasing their size.
Closing the school will save the state Department of Education $374,000 a year — a fraction of the DOE's $2.4 billion budget.
The DOE spends more than the QLS savings on the secretarial staff in just the state superintendent's office.
More than twice the QLS savings is spent in just the "service for fee-misc" category in the $21 million computer services budget.
The savings from the QLS closure would be minimal. And the DOE's proposed use for the QLS campus if the school is closed? Not a charter school, or even a private school, but office space for DOE administrative staff.
Smaller elementary schools work better for students.
The DOE needs to remember what it is — the Department of Education — and put students first.