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Salary cap bill among 29 rejected by Lingle

By B.J. Reyes

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Saying it could take funds away from other programs at a time when most state employees are making sacrifices, Gov. Linda Lingle vetoed a proposal to raise the salary cap for the state schools superintendent and provide performance bonuses for other top education officials.

Senate Bill 2434 was among 29 bills vetoed by the governor yesterday.

The vetoes bring Lingle's total for 2010 to 47, although 11 were overridden by the Legislature before the end of the regular session.

Senate members gathered and prepared for a special override session yesterday, but the vetoes were to stand after House Speaker Calvin Say announced last week he would not call the House back into special session to override any vetoes. Veto overrides require a two-thirds' majority vote of both chambers.

Lingle released the list of vetoes yesterday at a news conference in her office.

In her statement of objections to the education salaries bill, Lingle said the measure "could impact the funding of other education programs and comes at a time when other state workers are losing their jobs, taking furloughs or are subject to decreased pay."

She said she understands the intent of trying to attract a wider range of potential candidates for senior Department of Education posts, but noted the superintendent already receives a "considerably higher salary" than other department heads.

Board of Education Chairman Garrett Toguchi said Lingle's decision "shortchanges" students because "it jeopardizes the state's ability to attract and recruit highly qualified superintendents to lead our public schools."

VETOES AND OVERRIDES, BY YEAR

A look at the number of vetoes issued each year by Gov. Linda Lingle and the number of veto overrides undertaken by the Legislature. All 11 overrides this year were done during the 2010 regular session.

» 2010: 47 vetoes, 11 overrides
» 2009: 57 vetoes, 38 overrides
» 2008*: 53 vetoes, 17 overrides
» 2007: 42 vetoes, 19 overrides
» 2006: 32 vetoes, 0 overrides
» 2005: 28 vetoes, 12 overrides
» 2004: 38 vetoes, 7 overrides
» 2003: 50 vetoes, 6 overrides

* Does not include five line-item vetoes, and one line-item veto override, in bills that otherwise became law.

Lingle also vetoed House Bill 2377, legislation dependent on voters approving this fall a constitutional amendment doing away with an elected school board in favor of one appointed by the governor.

The proposal required the governor to appoint members, subject to Senate confirmation, from a list provided by a selection committee. The process is similar to that for the University of Hawaii Board of Regents.

Lingle said the bill is too narrow in focus and could lead to special-interest groups having greater numbers on the selection committee and more influence in the process.

Senate President Colleen Hanabusa said the rejection of the bill means if voters approve the amendment, the Legislature would have to fast-track the enabling legislation at the start of the 2011 session.

Hanabusa said she was most disappointed in the governor's veto of Senate Bill 2849, a measure aimed at improving efficiency and accountability within the Employer-Union Health Benefits Trust Fund.

The bill changes the voting structure of the trust fund and restricts money appropriated to the fund from being used by the governor for any other purposes.

"One of the concerns that we have with the EUTF is the fact that the people are not getting serviced," said Hanabusa (D, Nanakuli-Makua). "This particular bill prevented any governor ... from using the moneys appropriated for any other purpose."

Lingle said she objects to the restrictions, noting the bill could hamper the state's budgeting process and require money to be allocated even when the state is short of funds.

"Under this bill, contributions would have to be made to the EUTF even if the EUTF does not need the contributions to cover the state's share of health benefit plan costs or the general fund expenditures exceed general fund revenues," Lingle said.

 

SOME BILLS VETOED BY GOVERNOR

A look at some of the 29 bills vetoed yesterday by Gov. Linda Lingle. A complete list of the governor's vetoes and her explanations can be found online at www.hawaii.gov/gov/leg/2010-legislative-session.

» Civil unions (House Bill 444): Allows same-sex and heterosexual couples to enter into civil unions and receive the same rights, benefits and responsibilities as marriage under state law.
» Appointed school board (HB 2377): Creates a state Board of Education selection advisory council to recommend nominees for an appointed statewide school board to the governor. Reduces the school board to 10 members from 14, including a nonvoting student member. The bill is a companion to a state constitutional amendment creating an appointed school board, which is before voters in November.
» Education salaries (Senate Bill 2434): Expands the salary cap for the state schools superintendent from $150,000 annually to $160,000 annually and offers performance bonuses that could eventually raise the salary to $250,000 a year.
» Sexual human trafficking (SB 2045): Establishes the offenses of first- and second-degree sexual human trafficking.
» Complaint records (HB 1212): Limits public disclosure of complaint records against licensed professionals to complaints that have been resolved.






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