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Governor signs state budget bill

Gov. Linda Lingle has signed state budget and bond measures for the fiscal year that begins Thursday.

The budget bill appropriates more than $10.2 billion for executive branch operations and almost $1.7 billion for executive branch capital improvement projects.

The bond measure authorizes the issuance of about $326 million in state general obligation bonds, which will finance state capital improvement projects.

At the start of this year’s legislative session, the state was facing a projected $1.2 billion budget deficit through June 2011.

The new budget eliminates that shortfall through tax increases, targeted cuts and savings realized from last year’s layoffs of more than 800 state employees.


Jury rules assault a misdemeanor

A Circuit Court jury deliberated for one day before finding Vavao Kurtz, 29, guilty of misdemeanor third-degree assault yesterday in connection with a Feb. 3 incident at Ala Moana Beach Park.

Florencio Bermudez, 53, lost his right eye in a blow that broke the bone surrounding his eye.

Kurtz faces up to a year in jail when he is sentenced in September. He was facing up to 10 years in prison if the jury had found him guilty of first-degree assault.

"What happened is terribly unfortunate but understandable," said Edward Harada, Kurtz’s lawyer.

Kurtz said Bermudez made crude, degrading and explicit comparisons between Samoan and Filipino women, and he punched Ber-mudez because he thought Bermudez was about to assault him.



Regents back payment to chancellor

The University of Hawaii Board of Regents has approved a one-time payment of $43,920 to UH-Hilo Chancellor Rose Tseng – compensation for a period when Tseng was on professional leave and was not paid what she should have been.

Tseng is to receive the money after she retires this year.

The board also approved a chancellor emeritus title for Tseng when she retires.

The board has already selected California State Polytechnic University science dean Donald Straney to succeed Tseng.


Big Isle faces worst lack of doctors

The Big Island has the greatest physician shortage among Hawaii counties at 38 percent below optimum based on population, according to a study to be presented today. That is followed by Maui County at 33 percent and Kauai at 30 percent, the study said.

Oahu has 17 percent fewer doctors than it needs.

The state’s growing physician shortage will be addressed at a Hawaii Physician Workforce Summit at 9 a.m. at the Waikiki Beach Marriott. Findings will be presented by Dr. Kelley Withy of the John A. Burns School of Medicine.

The study, funded by a fee on physician licenses authorized by the state Legislature, says Hawaii has roughly 20 percent fewer doctors than it should have compared with national physician-to-population ratios, according to the medical school.

Hawaii has about 2,900 doctors and some work part time. The average age of Hawaii physicians is 52.5 years – older than the national average of 48 – and could result in an estimated 1,100 retirements over the next decade.


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