A Wish List For Our $465 Million

Dan Boylan
By .(JavaScript must be enabled to view this email address)
Wednesday - August 31, 2005
| Del.icio.us

So we’re sitting on the sofa in the television room last week, the high-strung Filipina already working the crossword puzzle. Me, I’m reading the front page.

Wife says she wants to talk about the family budget: how much she intends to spend on her Korea-Japan post-retirement sojourn, what will be needed for the daughter’s tuition this year, then there’s the dry rot in the mauka walls of the house, the stained carpeting.

“I’ve been trying not to think about that dry rot,” says I. “More paint than board left on that side of the house.”

“I’ve been ignoring it too,” says she. “But something has to be done.”

“OK,” says I. “But we can live with the splotches on the rug.”

And live with the lack of power in Grandpa’s ‘88 Camry that his daughter’s been driving, the growling condenser in the 2000 Chevy Prizm that our daughter’s been driving, and the alarming bump in the steering mechanism in the ‘97 Saturn that I drive.

All ignored. But we’re a little bit ahead this fall in the Boylan family budget — so the problem of the dry rot will prob- ably be addressed.

That decided, I read on the front page of the paper that Gov. Linda Lingle reports that the state ran a $465 million surplus this past year.

I should have known: You couldn’t go to the airport these past few months without seeing gangs of tourists lining up at the curb, waiting for the buses to take them into Waikiki.

So what’s the good guv going to do with all that cash? Why, give it back to us, of course. Wouldn’t you on the eve of your re-election campaign?

No, because it wouldn’t do most of us much good. The $200 per person she’s talking about rebating wouldn’t make a dent in my dry rot and dilapidated car problems. But $465 million could go a long way toward dealing with some of the problems we as a community face.

Traffic, for example. How about kick-starting construction of that train from Kapolei through downtown to the university with an expenditure of, say, $465 million (minus the constitutionally required tax rebate of a buck a head)? Four- hundred-and-sixty-five million dollars would constitute quite a kick.

Or how about fixing some institutional dry rot in university facilities? Friend of mine took his son over to Hilo last spring to look at the facilities of the university there. He was appalled by the dormitory rooms: peeling paint, broken light bulbs, a hinge off a door. So last weekend he took his son over to start the boy’s freshman year.

What’d he find? Peeling paint, broken light bulbs, a hinge off a door. Come on, Gov. Linda. I know you’ve been trying to help with repair and maintenance at the university, but there’s much more to be done.

Or how about this?

My conservative friends constantly tell me that you can’t fix a problem by throwing money at it. Let’s make an experiment out of it. Take the 40 worst per- forming schools in the recent No Child Left Untested tests and give them each a grant of $10 million to be spent over five years time to bring themselves up to standard. Let’s see. Let’s just see.

Or, talk about repair and maintenance, how about the public schools? Sure, Kapolei High School and Nanakuli Elementary may be the most gorgeous edu- cational facilities in the state. They should be; they’re brand new. But there are a lot of tired- looking schools out there, from Kau to Kauai, and $465 mil would go a long way toward sprucing them up. (How about some AC while we’re at it?)

Or (Ring the self-interest buzzer here. Brrrr. Brrrr. Does that sound like a self-interest buzzer? Oh, well.) hand over $200 mil to President David McClain and tell him to get the first stage of University of Hawaii-West Oahu campus up and running out in Kapolei by the spring of 2007, thus keeping 2,500 students or so from getting on H-1 and H-2 each morning from August to May.

Or, how about just $20 million of it for an all-out assault on invasive species? From high- pitched frogs to foliage that strangles, Hawaii’s environ- ment is in crisis — and we have to act soon.

Now, I know the rhetoric about giving the money back to the hard-working taxpayers to spend as they see fit.

But by spending the money on education or dealing with the state’s traffic bottleneck or protecting the environment, we’ll be benefiting every taxpayer for generations to come.

And you can only ignore the dry rot so long before the house comes tumbling down on your head.

.(JavaScript must be enabled to view this email address)

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