Report on Pre-Session Legislative Conference
City-county relationships, higher education and fiscal policies were the chief topics discussed at the Hawaii Second Pre-Session Legislative Conference on Jan. 17 and 18, 1963. The conference was called pursuant to House Resolution #36 of the 1962 Legislature, for the purpose of bringing together "legislators and other governmental and civic leaders to gain understanding of problems, which will be considered by the 2nd State Legislature".
Panels were set up on State-County Relationships and on Higher Education both of which have recently been comprehensively surveyed (the former by Public Administration Service, Chicago, Ill; the latter by U.S. Dept. of Education), and on fiscal
policies. Some 200 persons were in attendance and discussion ranged widely; the matters receiving the most attention were:
Home rule for neighbor islands. (The Honolulu charter already provides "adequate organizational structure" for Honolulu.)
Transfer of school buildings and maintenance to the state government.
Creation of urban tax districts to permit property tax and service charge differentials in relation to benefits received. "Such an approach recognizes the differences in service needs among areas but avoids proliferation of separate jurisdiction to reflect them" according to the report.
The report states that "the University of Hawaii is near the threshold of greatness among institutions of higher learning in the U. S. and in the world."
Dr. John F. Sly of Princeton University said in his luncheon address on the first day of the conference, that before attaining this greatness, a tendency toward factions within the faculty and a tendency on the part of the Legislature to "meddle, influence and restrict" must be overcome. He attributed this tendency in part to the fact that the University has had 4 presidents within the last 10 years.
Recommendations receiving the most discussion were:
The establishment of the University of Hawaii as the administrative agency for-all publicly supported education beyond the high school level, in the state.
The progressive establishment over the next 10 years of 6 administratively integrated University of Hawaii - Community Colleges, at which programs of general studies, freshman and sophomore level arts and sciences, and occupational curriculum up to two years of formal study will be concentrated. These would make use
of existing facilities of the present technical schools.
A projected $23.5 million state deficit for fiscal years 1965-68 and $41 million deficits for Honolulu and the neighbor islands were reported by Nils Ueki, state budget official.
His solution was either to increase revenues through increased taxes or a more rapidly expanding economy or to reduce proposed expenditures. No one seemed to have any better ideas!
Dr. Thomas H. Hamilton, the new president of the Univ. of Hawaii, was the luncheon speaker on the second day. His topic was "Dimensions of Difficulty". As the speech has been printed in full in the January 22 Star-Bulletin, we shall not attempt to summarize it, but only say that the audience seemed to be much impressed with the speech and with Dr. Hamilton.
Laura A. Draper