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Straight from the Capitol: Post-session update from Green

(Editor’s note: Sen. Josh Green has answered the latest version of ‘Straight from the Capitol.’)

– What was biggest victory for the Big Island? Biggest defeat?

SB1673 rescued the Hawaii Healthcare System, creating a roadmap to restructure the system with partial privatization and an infusion of money to assure comprehensive healthcare services in Kona, Hilo, Kohala and Kau through 2011, by which time the new shape of HHSC will have been accomplished.

Big Island’s largest defeat was avoiding tax increases on small businesses.

– What single piece of legislation will have the biggest impact on neighbor isle residents?

SB1673 (see above)

– What are you most proud of accomplishing this session? What are you most disappointed about?

I am proud we made real strides in stabilizing healthcare for all of rural Hawaii. I am disappointed that we were unable to bring people closer together on controversial social issues.

– Understanding that this is not a real measure of a lawmaker, but how much state money did you secure for your district?

Over $200mil has been appropriated for West Hawaii, including massive road appropriations (Queen K, phase 2 and the mid-level road, Ane Keohokalole Road), airport and harbor expansions. West Hawaii has received more appropriation support over the past 5 years than any other neighbor island district.

– What role should union leadership take (or have taken) in helping balance the budget?

The best approach to balance the budget would have been to use some of the Honolulu Rail fund in combination with unused special funds to avoid tax increases or major labor concessions. This would have been more fair to Hawaii’s people.

Because this approach was rejected, everyone needs to compromise during this recession and both labor and the private sector will both help to balance the budget. Labor will likely agree to modest furloughs to avoid layoffs and the private sector is seeing tax increases (which I opposed).

– What issue will pop up again next year?

Civil Unions will likely be resolved next session and I hope that we will revisit the state’s financial plan, especially as we begin to emerge from the recession.

– How can constituents help you achieve the things you want to get done? Regarding either new legislation or bills you want to introduce next year?

Constituents should write to the Senate and House leadership both in support or against any bill that I introduce that they feel strongly about. Citizen government is the way to make Hawaii great.

– Just for fun: Who’s the best dressed lawmaker? Who’s the most articulate lawmaker? Which lawmaker would bring the best potluck dish to a Memorial Day barbecue?

Scott Nishimoto and Kalani English are hands down the best dressed legislators. Clayton Hee has the best cowboy boots. I am the most serious legislator (when I see groups being mistreated) and considered a rabble-rouser.

– Are you planning any legislature update meetings in your district?

First one was earlier this week … many to follow…

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