Welcome to Capitol Watch. There’s less than a month to go at the Hawaii Legislature and the budget crunch is taking center stage. Civil Beat is all over the story.

3:29 p.m. Hawaii Ranked 4th for D.C. Sponging

The Daily Beast and Newsweek rank Hawaii fourth among all states that “sponge” off Washington — i.e., getting back more tax money than they pay.

The report says:

In terms of trends, President Obama’s native state has benefitted the most since 2007, with federal funds to Hawaii more than doubling since 2009. The smallest increase since 2007 goes to Ohio, which has seen its federal funds increase by just 5 percent.

Hawaii got back $2.80 back for each $1 sent. Here’s how it breaks down:

2007-2009 Federal taxes paid, avg.: $7.63 billion

2007-2009 Federal funding received, avg.: $18.20 billion 

2007-2009 Amount received per tax dollar paid, avg.: $2.38

2007-2009 Change in federal funding received: +106%

(Note: The April 18 Newsweek print version lists Hawaii in fourth place but the Daily Beast post has us in fifth place because they include the District of Columbia, which is just ahead of Hawaii.)

The report does not say, but Dan Inouye‘s track record in bringing earmarks to Hawaii likely helps explain the Aloha State’s prominent ranking.

1:36 p.m. Maui Veteran to Receive Medal of Honor

Barack Obama will award Private First Class Anthony T. Kahoohanohano, U.S. Army, the Medal of Honor for conspicuous gallantry.

Kahoohanohano will receive the honor posthumously “for his heroic actions in combat on September 1, 1951, while in charge of a machine-gun squad with Company H, 17th Infantry Regiment, 7th Infantry Division in the Republic of Korea,” according to a press release from the White House.

The statement said:

When faced by an enemy with overwhelming numbers, Private First Class Kaho’ohanohano ordered his squad to take up more defensible positions and provide covering fire for the withdrawing friendly force. He then gathered a supply of grenades and ammunition and returned to his original position to face the enemy alone — delivering deadly accurate fire into the ranks of the onrushing enemy. When his ammunition was depleted, he engaged the enemy in hand-to-hand combat until he was killed. His heroic stand so inspired his comrades that they launched a counterattack that completely repulsed the enemy. 

Kahoohanohano’s sister, Elaine Kahoohanohano, and brother, Eugene Kahoohanohano, will join the president at the White House to commemorate their brother in a May 2 ceremony.

12:56 p.m. Local GOP Dismisses Obama’s Deficit Plan

The Hawaii Republican Party tweeted out its disdain over Barack Obama‘s plan to reduce the nation’s deficit and debt (example: tax the rich).

The local GOP tweeted, “Here is a summary of the Presidents speech this morning,” and then included this link.

It’s a YouTube posting that shows the president missing basketball nets, bowling into the gutter, throwing an errant baseball pitch and missing a golf putt.

The 41-second clip, titled “Obama’s Budget Mulligan,” is paid for by the Republican National Committee.

@gophawaii has 587 followers. Later today, it tweeted out that Joe Biden was reported to have fallen briefly nodded off during the president’s speech.

11:07 a.m. New Reporting System for Corporate Campaign Donations

The Hawaii Campaign Spending Commission recently introduced a Corporate Reporting System that is modeled after the commission’s Candidate Filing System and Noncandidate Committee Filing System.

Those systems are used heavily by journalists to make connections between donors and local politicians. (Example: “My Candidate, My Boss.”)

The new system comes as a result of a law that went into effect Jan. 1 requiring corporations to file a report for contributions that aggregate more than $1,000 per two-year election period made directly to a candidate or candidate committee.

So far, the only corporation to sign up is Marriott International, Inc.

But then, the site has only be in operation for two weeks, and the 2012 election is still 19 months away.

10:01 a.m. Ward: Too Many Bills Hurt Hawaii

Gene Ward is upset that 22 of the bills that passed second crossover yesterday increase fees and taxes.

“They include increasing the vehicle weight tax and registration fees that will make it more costly to operate a car at a time when families are already coping with gasoline prices in excess of $4.00 a gallon,” according to a statement today from the House minority

The statement adds:

General contractors and subcontractors will be double taxed.

Credit unions and anyone owed money who wants to file in court, will have their fees nearly doubled for making court filings.

We are excessively increasing penalties and fine under the occupational safety act.

We are taxing liquor to the point that small diners and fancy restaurants like Roys will have a hard time.

For our visitors, the main driver of our economy, we are extending the surcharge on rental cars and taxing timeshares.

Ward says the reason Hawaii has a large budget deficit is because the state is spending too much.

“Before session ends, we need to stop those bills that hurt Hawaii,” he said. “Let’s work together to DO NO HARM.”

8:52 a.m. Hanabusa Doubts Case’s Senate Chances

Colleen Hanabusa says lingering bad feelings over Ed Case‘s 2006 run for the U.S. Senate could hurt his candidacy in 2012.

Hanabusa, in an article on the Washington website The Hill, said, “When you look at the multi-cultural base of the community that we have there, it’s something that probably does linger with a good portion of the Democratic base.”

Case, then a congressman, challenged Dan Akaka in the Democratic primary that year but lost 53-46 percent.

Hanabusa says she is interested in running for the Senate:

“I have never seen a seat that’s like this seat where you don’t have a lot of [Democrats] jump in,” she said. “It would be easier if the race did narrow down, but that’s not something that I would expect just given the nature of us Democrats in Hawaii.”

Briefing: Missile Defense

A joint House and Senate committee briefing is scheduled to hear a presentation by Riki Ellison of the Missile Defense Advocacy Alliance.

Ellison will discuss Hawaii’s role in the nation’s current missile defense system, “assets among the islands, their growth, importance to our National Security and President, and development of these systems in Hawaii,” according to a press release.

“Due to the location and isolation of our islands, national defense is important to us,” Will Espero said in the statement. “At the same time, there are more than 100,000 service members and their families living in Hawaii and they are great contributors to our economy and community.”

Resolution: Homeless Sleeping in Cars

Four Senate committees are scheduled to hear a resolution asking state and Honolulu agencies to designate government parking lots where homeless people who own cars can sleep in them at night.

The “reso” reads in part:

WHEREAS, there are many circumstances that drive people out of their homes, such as substance abuse, serious health problems, mental health conditions, war veterans, foster youths who have aged out of the system but are not yet ready to be on their own, in-migration from the mainland, and for many the inability to earn enough money to pay rent;

WHEREAS, many homeless persons sleep in their cars wherever they can find a safe place to park their car;

WHEREAS, state and municipal parking lots are largely empty during night hours, the time when the homeless need a place to sleep.

Resolution: Audit the DOE

House Finance is scheduled to hear a resolution requesting a financial and management audit of the Hawaii Department of Education.

The “reso,” which was co-authored by Roy Takumi, reads in part:

WHEREAS, today, the Department of Education remains under close public scrutiny, both locally and nationally; and

WHEREAS, the public has raised many questions about the Department’s operations, including its finances and management; and

WHEREAS, a financial and management audit of the Department of Education is long overdue; and

WHEREAS, an audit of the Department would improve critical educational services provided by this large taxpayer-funded institution that absorbs a large percentage of the state budget, by examining in-depth the effectiveness and efficiency of departmental operations, both at the management and administrative levels.

Birther Update

In case you missed it:

Mitt Romney says Barack Obama was born in the U.S.A.

Michele Bachmann says anybody can look at her birth certificate.

Donald Trump says the White House is worried because he keeps raising the birther issue.

Where’s Neil?

Here’s Neil:

• Remarks at Waipahu Town Meeting, Waipahu Intermediate School, 6:30 p.m. to 8:00 p.m.

Catch up on previous coverage:

About the Author