Sen. Jill Tokuda ousted as head of powerful Ways and Means committee

There’s been a shakeup when it comes to leadership positions within the state Senate.

Sen. Jill Tokuda will be removed as chair of the Ways and Means committee. The position is key and comes with considerable power as the chair controls all issues involving your money.

According to the Hawaii State Legislature’s website:

“The purview of this committee includes those programs relating to overall state financing policies, including revenue enhancement, taxation, other revenues, and cash and debt management; statewide implementation of planning, programming, budgeting and evaluation; and government structure and finance.”

Tokuda was one the senators against extending the general excise tax to raise money for rail.

“I think there’s going to be a lot of speculation as to whether or not the hard stance that I took on rail and not wanting to have any kind of long-term extension of GET was a direct correlation or catalyst to the reorganization, however, whenever you have positions like Ways and Means chair, you understand that it comes with a number of responsibilities as well as risk and liability,” she said. “So you just do it as a great opportunity to be able to serve your community, to do what you can to be able to provide good resources to the community, but also know that at any time, it could also be taken away as well, because it comes with hard decisions that you have to make, and you’re not going to always make everyone happy, whether it’s people outside of the building or even your colleagues, especially during tough fiscal times like the one we find ourselves in.”

Tokuda says she’d heard rumblings of a reorganization attempt over the last few weeks, “but it always comes as a shock when you hear that a reorg resolution is being passed around, especially when it’s specifically targeting your chairmanship.”

Tokuda says she does not know who her replacement will be, and it’s ultimately up to Senate President Ron Kouchi to appoint a new Ways and Means chair.

The 2017 Legislative session is scheduled to adjourn Thursday.

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