Lawmakers take sides in budget blunderUPDATED 7:19 PM HST Jun 10, 2014Video Transcript
Bad math, bad leadership, or a news conference called in bad taste? One thing's certain.. a state budget goof is stirring up some BAD BLOOD... Good evening, I'm Yunji de Nies.. And I'm Paula Akana... The gloves came off today as lawmakers started choosing sides in a budget mistake that's quickly becoming a campaign issue in the Governor's race. KITV4's Andrew Pereira joins us with more... Andrew? Paula, Yunji... with just 60 days until the primary... there's all sorts of finger pointing going on... a lot of it between Gov. Neil Abercrombie and the State Senator looking to unseat him. 01 107 203-208 GOV. NEIL ABERCROMBIE: "THE BUDGET BILL HAS A COLUMN, YOU ADD IT UP. THE BOND AUTHORIZATION BILL HAS A COLUMN, YOU ADD IT UP. THEY'RE SUPPOSED TO MATCH. THEY DIDN'T." When asked who's to blame for a $444 million shortfall to the state's construction budget and $46 million in cuts to the DOE, Gov. Abercrombie said this. GOV. NEIL ABERCROMBIE: "I SUGGEST THAT YOU GO TO THE LEGISLATURE AND MAKE AN INQUIRY." House Finance chair Sylvia Luke puts the blame on the governor.. saying the last minute scramble to finance the Turtle Bay land purchase threw things into disarray. Suddenly a budget blunder has become a political war and the first big bone of contention in the Governor's race... Senator David Ige's running against Abercrombie and issued a statement saying, he and his staff worked with lawmakers and the administration LAST WEEK to develop a solution... before the Governor called attention to the problem with a news conference. "... so yes," said Ige, "I questioned the press conference, but the reason and need for it should be directed to the governor's office." Two Democratic senators tell KITV4 the governor made a bigger deal out of it than necessary... KITV4 Political analyst Neal Milner weighs in. NEAL MILNER: "HE DID A NANNY NANNY BOO BOO ON THEM BASICALLY, AND IT WAS SOMETHING THAT ONE COULD HAVE BEEN HANDLED DIFFERENTLY AND CERTAINLY COULD HAVE BEEN HANDLED IN A MORE LOW-KEY WAY The governor's campaign manager isn't backing The governor's campaign manager isn't backing down... he's doing the opposite... issuing this statement! "Sen. Ige can't add. As chair of the Senate money committee, he was responsible for the $46 million budget discrepancy. This is a significant error that could jeopardize the State's operations and expenditures." On background an official with the Abercrombie administration told KITV4 the budget blunder SHOULD be an issue in the governor's race since it points to a failure in leadership. NEAL MILNER: "IT'S SOMETHING THE PUBLIC SHOULD KNOW ABOUT, BUT IT'S THAT NEXT STEP THAT HAPPENED BECAUSE THERE'S A POLITICAL CAMPAIGN. IT THEN BECOMES AN ISSUE ABOUT INDIVIDUAL COMPETENCE AND ABOUT LEADERSHIP." The only republican in the Senate says there's plenty of blame to go around... SEN. SAM SLOM: "THEY WERE, WE WERE ALL AWARE. I WAS ON THE CONFERENCES; I WAS ON ALL THE COMMITTEES." This April 25 committee report shows lawmakers were aware $399 million needed to be reauthorized for the DOE, and Sen. Sam Slom raised alarm bells BEFORE the budget was passed. SAM SLOM: "I WAS THE ONLY ONE IN THE LEGISLATURE THAT SPOKE OUT AND VOTED AGAINST IT. AND WHAT I SAID AT THE TIME WAS THERE ARE UNCONSTITUTIONAL PROVISIONS HERE; WE KNOW ABOUT IT AND WE DIDN'T DO ANYTHING." The budget was balanced by essentially borrowing $46 million from the Department of Education's construction budget. DOE says it won't be a problem as long as lawmakers give the money back during the next legislative session.