PDHblog This is a place for members of Progressive Democrats of Hawai‘i to express their thoughts, hopes and exasperations about political happenings.

October 18, 2006

public spending

Filed under: 2Healthcare,4Public Financing,HI Politics,SHAPES platform — rachel @ 3:12 pm

As we approach the legislative session, one of the things PDH & friends will be doing is gathering information about bills that we would like to see enacted. Two that come immediately to my mind are relating to Universal Single-Payer Healthcare and Comprehensive Public Financing of Elections. Last year there were bills dealing with both issues — one was killed at the very beginning of the session and the other made it all the way through only to be vetoed by Lingle. Will either have a chance this year? Both issues will require significant amounts of public funds, yet in the long run would likely save taxpayers’ money. This type of long-term investment is not easy for politicians focused on the time-scale of an election cycle. Will the representatives that we elect on Nov 7 have the leadership it will take? Will we keep the pressure on them to give them backbone?

Single-Payer Universal Healthcare
The bill relating to Universal Healthcare changed various times in many ways as it worked its way through the system. The end result was a bill (SB2133) that would establish a “Universal Hawaii Health Authority” which “shall develop a comprehensive health plan… for all individuals in the state.” Many viewed the bill as having problems, but a good start toward a true single-payer system and much better than nothing. SB2133 passed its final reading in both the house and senate, was forwarded onto the Governor who vetoed it. See measure history here. Learn more about a single-payer system at the Physicians for a National Health Program site and see a summary of arguments for and against at wikipedia.

Comprehensive Public Financing of Elections
The bill relating to comprehensive public funding of elections has a long history. It has been introduced to the legislature in various forms for the past seven (?) years or so. Each time it has failed, but at different times in the process. Two years ago the bill seemed very close to passing and was “tabled” at the very end (status). Last year the bill (SB3223) was killed at the very beginning of the session. The group largely responsible for lobbying and gaining community support for this bill, now called Voter Own Elections, responded by “educating” the public about where certain legislators received their campaign money from. This seemed to have mixed results, angering some legislators and even some supporters, while still gaining more visibility for the topic. One of the big questions has always been, “can this type of legislation be passed in a state that does not allow for citizen led propositions?” “Clean elections” have been enacted by proposition in Maine, Arizona, Connecticut as well as other municipalities and is up for a vote in California this year. In each of those states legislation can be passed by the general public, whereas in Hawaii we must rely on our elected officials. That works well for most issues, but in this case many of the incumbents see no reason to change the system since it is working fine for them. Can constituent pressure be enough to get them to try something new?

This Friday’s NOW episode is called “Votes for Sale” about public financing of elections… watch it to learn more. See a preview here.

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