Wednesday, June 17, 2009

Top Hawaii Headlines: Wednesday morning edition

Hawaii drivers soon will be paying the highest taxes on gas in the country, about 62 cents a gallon.

Two weeks before the price of fuel is expected to jump by about a dime in extra taxes, the statewide average for a gallon of gasoline hit the $3 mark.

Gov. Linda Lingle told state workers yesterday to expect massive layoffs as early as July 1 if they don't accept furloughs. But the public worker unions went to Circuit Court to fight the threatened furloughs.

Three public-sector labor unions filed legal challenges yesterday against Gov. Linda Lingle's plans to furlough state workers, while the governor said she has instructed state department directors to draft layoff options as an alternative if furloughs are blocked in court.

Hawai'i's elementary and middle school students not only lag behind their national counterparts but are also outperformed by their peers in many Asian countries and parts of Europe, according to a new international grading index.

Taxes and a little confusion led the debate as the Maui County Council's Budget and Finance Committee on Tuesday began the heated and tricky process of potentially raising property taxes for bed-and-breakfast and transient vacation rental owners.

A Kona woman who killed one woman and injured two men in a drunken driving collision in 2006 will be released from prison after serving only 18 months of a 10-year sentence in prison

The state Legislature chose not to enact the Department of Land and Natural Resources' proposed Recreational Renaissance plan, but department chairwoman Laura Thielen is working on a backup approach that may accomplish some of the same maintenance and improvement goals.

The public is invited to weigh in this week and next on the environmental impacts of the proposed Thirty Meter Telescope.

Hawaii County's main office building is going high-tech.