Showing posts with label governors. state of the state. Show all posts
Showing posts with label governors. state of the state. Show all posts

Monday, January 26, 2015

Hawaii Gov. David Ige's State of the State address to a joint session of the Hawaii Legislature

photo screen grab courtesy Olelo public TV
Hawaii Gov. David Ige, courtesy Olelo community access television

Mister Speaker, Madame President, former governors, distinguished justices of the courts, representatives of our congressional delegation, members of the Hawaii State Legislature, other elected officials, honored guests, family and friends,


I am honored to be here today to deliver my first State of the State address. It is, of course, a homecoming of sorts with so many familiar faces and friends. Yet there is one major difference since I last sat among you:

I am a year older with a few more grey hairs.

To say that the last month has been an eye opener would be an understatement, as all the former governors here will understand. But it’s not so much about being overwhelmed as it is about being invigorated and challenged. And we have a mountain of challenges to climb.

And so I hope we can climb it together—because as I said at my inauguration: Alone, it is a daunting and overwhelming task.

But I have always been an optimist and a believer in people and the power they hold within them. That’s why I’ve always looked to others for help with answers; why I’ve always sought to harness the power of collaboration.

When I met with my cabinet during a retreat recently I asked them, what does Hawaii mean to them? What drove them? What directed their actions? While there were many different answers and perspectives, one word kept coming up over and over again:


It’s a sentiment I intimately understand.

After I graduated from the University of Hawaii, I was fortunate enough to be offered a number of jobs. But only one was located in Hawaii and that’s the one I accepted. To this day, I know it was the right choice because this is my home.

For me, that one word brings everything into focus and gives purpose and direction to everything we do. And what is it we really do here at the Capitol?

It’s quite simple: We are building a home for our kupuna, ourselves and our children.

We build schools, hospitals, community centers, and places to work and play. And we safeguard the things that are important to us: our families, our freedoms, our environment and our future—because this is our home.

As any carpenter knows, building a good home takes time, money and skill. And he or she will also tell you no matter what kind of house you build, you begin at the beginning—with a strong foundation.

That’s what I find myself doing as your new governor: building a solid foundation for this administration, for the work ahead and for the people of Hawaii.

In addition, home building begins with sound and long-term financing. It means working both the income and spending sides of the ledger. I recently submitted a preliminary budget that maintains state programs at current spending levels based on two sobering realities: 

First, we have fully committed our current funds to existing programs and services, and

Second, we are spending more than we take in.

While we work to correct that imbalance, we need to focus our available resources on strategic investments that grow our economy and strengthen our social safety net. In other words, we need to use the funds we have more efficiently and leverage it whenever possible.

For example, we can be more aggressive in seeking federal funds in a wide array of areas.

Federal officials tell me there is significant money—about $940 million—available to the state for the right projects, proposed for the right reasons and at the right time.

That’s why I’m pleased to announce the appointment of Elizabeth Kim as a Special Advisor to the Governor. Elizabeth’s impressive experience in Washington D.C. will help the state tremendously in securing more federal dollars. We all know Elizabeth’s story: a bright and talented person from Hawaii who wants to come home, but can’t find the opportunity to do so.

I am committed to creating more opportunities, not just for Elizabeth, but for all of our children   to return home to fulfill their dreams and contribute to Hawaii.

We also need to do a better job of collecting taxes already on the books.

The tax department, headed by Maria Zielinski, is preparing to implement a Tax System Modernization program this year. The upgrade will better secure tax information and increase tax revenues through its efficiencies.

While the project is expected to take several years, we should see a sizable increase in tax collections after the first two years. Moreover, the effort is projected to eventually pay for itself through these increased revenues.

Taxpayers will also benefit by being able to file their returns electronically, having access to online account information, and getting faster payments and refunds.
On the spending side, I believe we can do a number of things which center around a single change in mindset: Making government more efficient. I cannot stress how important I believe this one factor is.

I recently met with Mike Buskey, President of GameStop, a multimillion dollar, video-game retailer. The company operates almost 6,500 stores throughout the world and is a major player in the electronics sector.

He said, if the rate of change inside a company does not exceed the rate of change outside the company, it will result in devastating losses to its shareholders, even bankruptcy. It made me wonder about the number of people who would be affected, if change within our state government failed to exceed the rate of change in the world?

That truly would be devastating, resulting in government unable to meet the needs of its people.

But what about the opposite scenario?

I remember when I was in the Senate, we committed to going paperless and eliminating millions of unnecessary sheets of paper and its related costs. It was not an easy transition and it was tough to change the way we always did things for decades. But we did.

As a result, the Senate generated more than $1.2 million in savings over two years. In the process, we saved nearly 8 million sheets of paper or the equivalent of 800 trees each year.

Can you imagine what we could do, if all of state government looked for these kinds of opportunities?

For example, I am told that the state goes through about 1 million pages a month. That’s about 12 million pages a year. A little effort could go a long way to alter that. A change in mindset could take us so much further. We must reduce the amount of paper we use every day.

I am committed to transforming the culture of government to embrace and accelerate change. We need to invest in our employees and ask them what changes can be made to improve service and reduce costs. And we need to support them when we make those changes.

Leveraging our dollars and maximizing our investments also go a long way in creating savings.

I recently attended the ground breaking for Kapolei Lofts, a public-private partnership with the State, the City and a private developer. This rental housing project will provide nearly 500 much needed homes on Oahu, including 300 units that will remain affordable for the next 30 years.

The state provided an interim loan of $5 million and is a good example of how low-cost government investment tools can be used to create affordable homes for working families.

While we’re talking about building homes, let me bring up a related subject. Honolulu’s rail system is often viewed as a response to the growth of our suburban neighborhoods. While that is true today, it doesn’t have to be that way in the future.

Rail can be the driver to help us build future communities on Oahu—to sensibly direct growth, protect open space and agriculture, stimulate business, reinvigorate older neighborhoods, and build affordable homes. In fact, the state is the largest owner of parcels along the transit route.

Consequently, I will be filling a position in the Office of Planning to help us assess and evaluate those parcels specifically to build affordable homes.

Because that is one of this administration’s main goals.

We are also adding $100 million to the rental assistance revolving fund that can be leveraged with private money and state owned lands along the transit route to provide rental homes for working families. In addition, we are providing $25.3 million to construct a long-term care facility for veterans. Those funds will be matched with $37.4 million from the federal government.

We can also generate additional federal dollars by identifying defense interests along the transit route and seeing if our plans can mesh with the military’s to create a win-win situation. In these ways, federal funds can be tapped not just for our transportation needs but for community building.

And let me make one thing clear: This governor wants rail to succeed and I’m committed to it. Having said that, let’s also make sure we do things the right way for the right reasons, including cost containment, before we ask for more money.

Ask anyone who suffers from long-term illnesses. Nothing matters if you don’t have your health. Fully enjoying home and family presupposes good health. Lucky you live Hawaii for so many reasons, including one of the healthiest lifestyles and the longest life expectancies in the nation.

Hawaii’s Prepaid Healthcare Act has had a lot to do with those outcomes. In addition, it has brought us closest to achieving universal healthcare among all states. With the passage of the Affordable Care Act and the launching of Hawaii’s Health Connector, we can close that gap.  But we’ve got work to do.

I will not minimize the disappointments we’ve all felt with the Health Connector. But I will not dwell on them either.

That’s why we’re working closely with all stakeholders to ensure that we move toward a sustainable exchange, one that meets the requirements of the Affordable Care Act without endangering Hawaii’s Prepaid Healthcare.  

Despite the negative headlines, we are not that far away. Universal healthcare is within our grasp in Hawaii. And if we work together and focus on execution, I have every confidence we can achieve this.

Public Hospitals
We enjoy many benefits of being an island state cradled in the middle of the Pacific. But there are also disadvantages. Unlike other states, good healthcare is not easily distributed throughout the islands. Our families and doctors cannot simply drive to another hospital if one is busy or does not have the services they need.

We have some wonderful private hospitals, but not everyone has access to them. That’s why our public hospitals play such an important role in Hawaii—a greater one than in most other states. That’s especially true on our neighbor islands where they’re often the only provider of acute care.

Public-private partnerships offer great potential, but only if they are shaped in the right way. But no matter our direction, changing how we operate our hospitals to meet changing needs will be key to any long-term solution.

A home also needs a sustainable and reliable source of energy. Importing fossil fuel remains one of our greatest weaknesses and we simply must move to reduce our dependence on it. We have the locally generated resources that can allow us to be self-sufficient. We just need to move in concert toward that goal.

As our largest provider of energy, Hawaiian Electric will have a lot to do with our success or failure. That’s why, as discussions with NextEra proceed, I am asking Randy Iwase, the new head of the Public Utilities Commission, to be actively involved in those talks.

In addition, we will be restructuring and staffing the PUC to give it the expertise and resources needed to deal with its due diligence. I will also be assigning a special counsel to protect the public’s interest for the short and long term.

The home we build in Hawaii needs a strong support network in so many areas.

We need to support business and industry so that they can grow our economy and create jobs. That includes our visitor industry, which has had three straight record setting years in arrivals and spending, totaling about $15 billion and supporting 175,000 jobs statewide.

It also includes the thousands of small businesses that make up the core of our economic engine—those ma and pa stores whose predecessors include success stories like Foodland, City Mill and the ABC Stores.

We need to nurture an “innovation economy,” in which entrepreneurs use technology to develop new processes and products from existing ones, like smart phone makers who have taken their products far beyond the original concept of a mobile phone and created entire new markets.

It’s a whole new economic paradigm which we need to support with modern infrastructure, whether it’s expanding our broadband network or building innovation parks. That’s why we are providing $10 million for the HI Growth initiative to support innovation.

We need to support agriculture and help our local farmers dramatically increase the amount of food we grow locally. Hawaii grows about 10 to 15 percent of the total foods residents consume. If we are to become a sustainable society, we must increase those numbers.
The cost of importing foods adds up to more than $3 billion leaving the state annually. If we replace just 10 percent of imports with locally grown food, it would generate $188 million in total sales, $94 million for farmers, $47 million in wages, $6 million in new taxes and 2,300 jobs.

To do that, we need to preserve farm lands, develop agricultural parks, combat invasive species, and reassess the areas that determine whether a local farmer can survive.

We will be meeting with farmers from each island to hear what they need to make Hawaii more self-sufficient. And I’ve asked Agriculture Director Scott Enright to spearhead this effort.

In the meantime, we are adding $5 million to the agriculture loan program and expanding use of the fund to include biosecurity and food safety needs. 

We need to support our military whose courage and commitment to our nation’s security keeps Hawaii and the rest of the country safe and strong. From our strategic location in the Pacific comes a responsibility that we cannot shirk.

Moreover, the military plays a significant part in our economy, spending more than $6.5 billion annually with a total economic impact of $14.7 billion. It is the second largest sector of our economy supporting more than 101,000 jobs.

Even with the Pentagon’s new focus on the Pacific, there is no guarantee that we can protect the military’s presence in the islands simply because of our geographic location. We will need to be proactive and aggressive in our efforts to support our troops here. And I am prepared to do just that.

Native Hawaiians
We need to fulfill our obligations to our host culture whose sense of aloha influences everything we do. As we speak, the Hōkūleʻa and its sister ship are sailing across the oceans to call for a more sustainable world.

Their voyage banner, Mālama Honua, means “to care for our earth.”  Living on an island, we know better than most that the limited resources of this planet must be protected if we are to thrive as a species. That is the lesson offered by our host culture. It is their gift to all of us.
I am pleased that Nainoa Thompson is with us today and would like recognize him for the many contributions he has made to the Polynesian Voyaging Society and the people of Hawaii.

University of Hawaii
We also need a strong university system to help educate our future leaders and citizens and create a place where innovation, original thinking and technology flourishes—a university system not just engaged in the community but leading it into the future.

In that regard its goals must be clear; its planning must be precise; its actions must be forthright. I challenge our university leaders to focus on execution, accountability and delivery in all that they do.

We all know that education is the key that opens the door to success. It has the power to lift a family out of poverty and despair. It has the power to turn dreams into reality. And it has the potential to do so much more for our own children.

But before education can transform them, we must transform our school system.

Waipahu High School is a wonderful example of a high performance school with strong leadership from the principal who seeks to empower students, teachers and the community; high expectations for students; and hard-working teachers and staff committed to innovative and creative academies to help students learn.

Together, they’ve generated amazing results including: increasing reading and math performances, graduation rates, the number of students going to college and satisfaction levels from all stakeholders.

With us today is Waipahu principal Keith Hayashi. I would like Keith to stand and be recognized.

We have many excellent, high performing schools in our communities.  The question is how do we unleash them? I know that the best way to improve student learning is to empower schools and give those closest to our children the authority and resources to take action.

As Governor, I will appoint members to the Board of Education who embrace school empowerment of our principals and teachers as the key to ensure student success. I challenge the leaders of public education to stop issuing mandates from the state office and to focus on empowering schools and delivering resources to the school level.

In the current budget, we are requesting an increase for the Department of Education’s Weighted Student Formula. This will allow principals to decide how to spend this portion of the DOE's budget and how to best meet the needs of their students.

And it will give our children greater educational opportunities.

My Mom grew up in Kahuku. At the time schools there only went to the eighth grade. And so her parents knew that if she was to have any kind of future she had to go away for high school. Somehow they scraped up enough money to send her to Denver Colorado to continue her schooling. After graduation she went on to become a nurse.

Eventually, she came back home to work and, with my father, raised six children, including a future grateful governor.

The point is my grandparents understood the value of education and were willing to sacrifice for it. So did my parents. When we became parents, ourselves, my wife and I did the same for our children. They are presently away at school pursuing their own hopes and dreams. But I know they too want to come home after college.

The story is the same for so many families in Hawaii. It’s repeated over and over again, generation after generation.

I know what it’s like to scrimp and save to buy a home and pay for tuition. I know what it’s like to struggle to make ends meet.

The sacrifices are the same, because the dreams are the same: to build a better life—and build it, not anywhere else, but here in the islands—because it is home.

And so, again, I ask all of you to remember why we’re here and why we do what we do:

Ko ka kou home. This is our home.

Let that be your focus. Let that direct your actions and drive your determination. Let the end, not justify the means, but allow us to work through them.

If we do that I think we will find ourselves in agreement more often than not.

And so I thank you—each and every one of you—for the sacrifices that you will make during this session and throughout the year.

And I look forward to working and collaborating with you.

Mahalo and aloha.

Wednesday, January 22, 2014

Abercrombie touts accomplishments, pushes minimum wage hike, preschool, keiki and kupuna programs in annual State of the State address; undersea electric grid aired, Hawaii council rejects outright GMO ban, Kauai tsunami maps updated, more news from all the Hawaiian Islands

2014 governors office courtesy photo
Abercrombie's 2014 State of the State courtesy photo
Gov. Neil Abercrombie declared Tuesday that the state now stands on solid financial ground and is entering a new phase in which investments in early childhood education, a minimum wage increase, land conservation and tax relief for seniors are possible. Closing the book on the recession, Abercrombie used his annual State of the State address to mark the state's economic turnaround. The governor said a record $844 million budget surplus provides the state with an opportunity to take action. Star-Advertiser.

The governor of Hawaii began his fourth State of the State address Tuesday asking lawmakers to "set aside our political preoccupations" and reflect instead on public service and the concerns of others. Yet, the major theme in Neil Abercrombie's speech was that the state has an $844 million budget surplus and that "hard choices," "tough decisions" and "fiscally prudent decisions" made it possible. Civil Beat.

Gov. Neil Abercrombie said Tuesday that Hawaii’s solid financial position will allow lawmakers to focus on such initiatives as expanding funding for preschool, providing tax relief for seniors and increasing the minimum wage. Pacific Business News.

Hawaii Gov. Neil Abercrombie used his State of the State address Tuesday to push for priorities that included tax relief for elderly residents, a minimum wage increase and state-funded preschool. The Democratic governor, during his fourth annual speech before lawmakers, also took time to tout the state’s recent accomplishments, notably concerning the state budget. Associated Press.

Governor Neil Abercrombie highlighted the state's $844 million surplus and pushed for tax breaks for seniors, along with raising the minimum wage during his fourth State of the State Address Tuesday morning at the State Capitol. Hawaii News Now.

In his fourth State of the State speech to a joint session of the legislature, Gov. Neil Abercrombie proposed an increase to Hawaii's minimum wage, while also asking for support in setting aside more than 20,600 acres of land on the North Shore and Central Oahu. KITV4.

In his fourth State of the State address, Gov. Neil Abercrombie highlighted the economic turnaround, one of the reasons for the $844 million general fund surplus. KHON2.

"I realize this is an election year. Political agendas and ambitions are being formulated, but let us take children out of these equations," said Gov. Neil Abercrombie. KITV4.

Hawaii Gov. Neil Abercrombie’s 2014 State of the State speech on Tuesday was peppered with facts highlighting the progress that Hawaii has made under his administration. Given that it's an election year and Abercrombie is not shy about showcasing his accomplishments, Civil Beat decided to take a closer look to check whether the statements he made tell the full story. Civil Beat.

Text of the governor's State of the State speech.

Boost in Minimum Wage Is Only the First Step. Civil Beat.

A proposal to connect the electrical grids of Maui and Oahu with an undersea cable would save utility ratepayers on both islands an average of 6 cents a kilowatt hour over the life of the project by increasing the amount of renewable energy that could be tapped and allowing the two grids to operate more efficiently, a state officials said tonight at a state Public Utilities Commission meeting. Although the cable would cost an estimated $700 million to construct, it would result in a net savings to ratepayers of $423 million over the 30-year life of the project, state Energy Administrator Mark Glick said in a presentation at the meeting called by the PUC.  Star-Advertiser.

An undersea electrical cable between Maui and Oahu will save consumers more than $420 million over 30 years, a state official said. But critics said that consumers will bear most of the upfront costs. Hawaii News Now.

Castle & Cooke is not giving up its fight to build a wind farm on Lanai to power Oahu despite a plan to connect Maui and Oahu instead via an undersea cable. Hawaii’s Public Utilities Commission held a hearing Tuesday evening at Farrington High School on Oahu to hear public comments on the Oahu-Maui connection, which would allow for the adoption of increasing amounts of renewable energy. Civil Beat.

Oahu revelers may be able to light sparklers and fountains on New Year's Eve and Independence Day under a new proposal expected to be unveiled by two Hono­lulu City Council members today. Council members Ikaika Anderson and Ann Koba­ya­shi plan to introduce a bill today allowing sparklers and fountains to join standard firecrackers as items that can be set off via permits. Star-Advertiser.

Results of laboratory tests on drinking water -- conducted after Navy officials found a possible jet fuel tank leak last week at Red Hill Underground Fuel Storage Facility --are continuing to meet federal regulatory Safe Drinking Water and State of Hawaii standards, and the water's safe to drink, according to a Navy news release issued this afternoon. Star-Advertiser.

The owner of Ward Centers is preparing to open a public sales gallery soon for the first two of 22 planned condominium towers envisioned to transform 60 acres of Kaka­ako into a largely residential community called Ward Village. Star-Advertiser.


It was deja vu for the Hawaii County Council on Tuesday as it voted against a full ban on genetically modified crops while meeting in committee. The vote was the second time the council’s Public Safety and Mass Transit Committee had considered Councilwoman Brenda Ford’s bill. Tribune-Herald.

Hawaii County Council members seemed at odds Tuesday on whether they’d rather have the state give the county back its share of the transient accommodations tax or allow it to raise general excise taxes. The discussion in the council Finance Committee ended with no vote, but it gave a glimpse into which council members preferred which mode of financing county operations. West Hawaii Today.

As chairman of the House Committee on Labor and Public Employment, state Rep. Mark Nakashima has already been hard at work crafting legislation to raise the minimum wage. So it’s no surprise that Nakashima, D-Hamakua, North Hilo, South Hilo, lists a 75-cent increase in the hourly wage over three years as one of his priorities for the 2014 legislative session. Nakashima said he hasn’t yet had an opportunity to review a proposal promised by Gov. Neil Abercrombie, but he said there will be minimum wage legislation heard in his committee this year. West Hawaii Today.


A Maui-based technology fund called mbloom LLC, the first early-stage fund of its kind in Hawaii, said Tuesday that it secured $10 million through a public-private partnership formed with Hawaii State Development Corp. and East Coast-based hedge fund Rosemont Seneca Technology Partners. Pacific Business News.

The Hawaiʻi Public Utilities Commission hosts a public meeting on Maui this week on the proposed Maui to Oʻahu Undersea Cable interisland transmission project to connect the electric grids on the two islands. The PUC is gathering input as part of its investigation to determine if the Oʻahu-Maui interisland transmission system, or grid-tie, is in the public interest. Maui Now.

Hawaii's C-minus grade on emergency care environment should not totally reflect on Maui County and Maui Memorial Medical Center, which is "always striving to improve" its services by investing in emergency preparedness, the hospital's top official said last week. Maui News.


Two local legislators gave good reviews to Gov. Neil Abercrombie’s State of the State speech Tuesday. Garden Island.

County officials announced that Kaua‘i's tsunami evacuation zone maps have been updated, replacing the maps from the 1990s. The updated maps are based on the latest technology, which utilizes bathymetric/ocean-floor mapping and computer modeling done by the University of Hawai‘i at Mānoa. Hawaii News Now.

As Kauai considers new restrictions against dogs that bark too much, some residents worry the rules could fuel arguments between neighbors. Associated Press.

The National Tropical Botanical Garden has announced it is bringing together a host of top musicians from Hawaii with a Grammy-winning artist in celebration of the Garden’s 50th anniversary. Tickets to the Saturday, April 5 “Musical Legends in the Garden” are now on sale for the four-hour concert set in NTBG’s open-air Southshore Visitors Center in Poipu. Garden Island.

Tuesday, January 24, 2012

Abercrombie's State of the State emphasizes recovery, $2.8M for fired Honolulu whistleblower, federal judge cites Hawaii for slow food stamp processing, rail tax better than expected, Honolulu wages average, governor, teachers union mull contract failure, more news from all the Hawaiian Islands

Gov. Abercrombie's 2012 State of the State address, courtesy photo
Gov. Neil Abercrombie said Monday that Hawaii has weathered the most difficult choices needed to balance the budget, urging lawmakers to leave the drama of the past few years behind and consider targeted investments to improve the state's economic future. Star-Advertiser.

Gov. Neil Abercrombie told the state Legislature on Monday that it's time to move forward and leave behind the drama of the recent past, saying lawmakers have an opportunity to maintain economic momentum, bolster education and help provide older Hawaii residents better access to long-term support. Associated Press.

The State’s Chief Executive says the worst of the Great Recession is behind us…and he’s committed to moving forward … Hawaii Public Radio.

"We have started to turn the corner," Governor Neil Abercrombie said while delivering his State of the State address Monday at the State Capitol. Hawaii News Now.

Governor Abercrombie pledged Monday to keep Hawaii on the path of economic recovery during his second State of the State address. KHON2.

Gov. Neil Abercrombie said Monday that he is asking state lawmakers for $10 million to consolidate all of Hawaii’s state technology under one office, and for another $2.9 million for the state’s Broadband Initiative. Pacific Business News.

In his State of the State address, Neil Abercrombie made sure the Hawaii Legislature — especially leaders Calvin Say and Shan Tsutsui — understands his gratitude. Civil Beat.

Gov. Neil Abercrombie in his State of the State address Monday touched on one of Hawaii's hottest topics — sustainable and renewable energy. West Hawaii Today.

Governor Neil Abercrombie reiterated his request for the Hawaii State Teachers Association to provide a new proposal for a contract in his 2012 State Of The State Address Monday. KITV4.

Hawaii House Republicans Respond to Governor's State of the State. Hawaii Reporter.

One Year Later - 2011 State of the State Scorecard. Civil Beat.

Governor Neil Abercrombie delivered his second state of the state address this morning, touching upon early childhood education, investment in infrastructure and moving forward on the state’s broadband initiative. Maui Now.

A federal judge has issued preliminary injunction against the state of Hawaii for failing to process food stamp applications quickly enough. Civil Beat.

The state will provide seed money to help the Queen's Medical Center quickly launch an organ transplant facility to replace the one closed in the Hawaii Medical Center's bankruptcy. Star-Advertiser.

The Hawaii Supreme Court wants the state Reapportionment Commission to get out of court and get back to work, according to a tersely worded order filed Friday. West Hawaii Today.

The leader of Hawaii's teachers union said Monday he should have given members more time to consider a six-year proposed contract they overwhelmingly rejected last week, and has been "humbled" by the vote. Star-Advertiser.

"I cannot think of a single thing we did not do to try to accommodate the concerns of the teachers union in this agreement," Gov. Neil Abercrombie said at a press conference last week about the vote by Hawaii teachers to reject a tentative contract with the state. Civil Beat.

The Hawaii chapter of Mothers Against Drunk Driving is calling the first year of the state's ignition interlock law a success. Tribune-Herald.

State roundup for January 24. Associated Press.

The half-percent excise tax surcharge levied on Oahu residents and visitors has brought in more than $810 million so far to fund the Honolulu rail project, with collections continuing to run ahead of projections, the Honolulu Authority for Rapid Transportation said Monday. Star-Advertiser.

Paychecks for workers in Honolulu fall somewhere in the middle when compared to 405 other metropolitan areas in the nation. Pacific Business News.

A woman who said she lost her job with the city for blowing the whistle on wrongdoing nearly ten years ago has been awarded a $2.8 million settlement by the Honolulu City Council. Hawaii News Now.

A 2010 report commissioned by the Department of Environmental Services shows the city could recuperate tens of millions of dollars every year by charging Oahu residents for regular trash pickup. KHON2.


Seven Hawaii County Council candidates have so far filed declarations of intent to seek public funding as the second election year of the three-election-cycle pilot program begins. West Hawaii Today.

Hunters and their supporters took to a Hilo street Monday to protest a state plan to ban hunting within 4,800 acres of public forest located south of Hilo. Tribune-Herald.


Students attending summer classes at the University of Hawaii Maui College will benefit from a reduction in tuition, following action taken by the university's Board of Regents last week on Kauai. Maui News.

The last in a series of community outreach meetings hosted by the Maui Charter Commission takes place this Wednesday in Pukalani. Maui Now.

Maui County could streamline the way it grants millions of dollars to nonprofit agencies and eliminate the volunteer Grants Review Committee under changes being considered by the administration and County Council. Maui News.


Kauai Mayor Bernard Carvalho Jr. will hold two community outreach meetings this week. Star-Advertiser.

An update on the Victim Witness Program requested by the Kaua‘i County Council to the Office of Prosecuting Attorney last week turned into a heated, four-hour discussion, marked by the recusal of one council member and repeated interruptions for discussions with attorneys. Garden Island.

More than two dozen people spent a couple of hours removing two large chunks of derelict netting which washed ashore during the recent storm at a Wailua beach. Garden Island.

Tuesday, January 25, 2011

Hawaii Gov. Neil Abercrombie talks tax hikes, spending cuts in first state of the state address, Innocence Project works on Maui, civil union bill in the works, more news from all the Hawaiian Islands

Gov. Neil Abercrombie, warning that the state is at risk of an economic collapse, called yesterday for spending cuts on public workers, welfare and health care for the poor and new taxes on pensions, alcohol, soda and time shares to balance the budget. Star-Advertiser.

"The truth is that our canoe, which is our beloved Hawaii, could capsize," Gov. Neil Abercrombie said in his inaugural State of the State address. Hawaii News Now.

Raise taxes and cut spending -- Governor Neil Abercrombie announced his ideas for tackling a massive budget deficit in his first state of the state speech. KHON2.

Hawaii Gov. Neil Abercrombie proposed in his first State of the State address Monday a soda tax and cuts in public benefits to help a state government on "life support" for an "under-resourced and often dysfunctional democracy." Associated Press.

Gov. Neil Abercrombie called for the creation of a tax for sodas and other drinks with sugar in them and he wants to hike taxes on alcohol for the first time in 12 years. KITV4.

Gov. Neil Abercrombie on Monday dribbled out a few components of his economic plan during his first state of the state address, ending his 46-minute speech to a standing ovation and a lot of questions about how it's going to work. West Hawaii Today.

The governor campaigned with the promise of not raising taxes. In his State of the State address Monday, he called for raising five taxes or fees. Civil Beat.

Gov. Neil Abercrombie, facing a $771.9 million budget gap in the next two fiscal years, is proposing a number of politically tough measures that will hit state workers, big soda drinkers and needy families as he looks to solve Hawaii’s fiscal problems. Hawaii Reporter.

In his first State of the State address Monday, Gov. Neil Abercrombie laid out a dire budget scenario and the potentially painful steps to recovery, including tax increases and benefit reductions. KITV4.

Governor Neil Abercrombie delivered his first State of the State address today before a joint Legislative session. Hawaii Public Radio.

Hawaii Gov. Neil Abercrombie is proposing a soda tax and cutbacks in public benefits to help the state recover from what he describes as a government on "life support" for an "under resourced and often dysfunctional democracy." Associated Press.

Full text of Gov. Neil Abercrombie’s first State of the State address on Monday. Hawaii Independent.

Gov. Neil Abercrombie has always been one to speak his mind. In his long political career, he has never held back, even if his fiery words landed him in trouble. Pacific Business News

Gov. Neil Abercrombie, faced with an $800 million state budget deficit, on Monday opened the door to using tourism revenues as one path to closing that yawning gap. Associated Press.

Hospitality industry executives said Hawaii's economic recovery could backslide if the state raises taxes on tourists or diverts tourism marketing dollars to other programs as Gov. Neil Abercrombie proposed in his State of the State address. Star-Advertiser.

A group advocating for better accounting disclosures says Hawaii isn’t meeting its balanced budget requirement because it hasn’t funded $12.8 billion of pension and healthcare benefits owed to state workers as they retire. Hawaii Reporter.

A Senate bill that would allow the governor to appoint new Board of Education members without candidates first being vetted by an advisory council moved forward yesterday, with support from the unions that represent teachers and principals.Star-Advertiser.

In his state of the state address, Governor Neil Abercrombie outlined education as his top priority and appealed to lawmakers to give him the authority to appoint a school board. Hawaii News Now.

Senators in the Education Committee met Monday to take the first vote on the measure to allow Governor Neil Abercrombie to appoint school board members. KITV4.

Not specifically mentioned in Governor Abercrombie’s State of the State address -- civil unions, granting marriage rights to same-sex partners. KHON2.

Less than three months after voters backed most candidates that support civil unions, lawmakers tomorrow begin the process of vetting another bill, with expectations high among those who hope to have the bill passed. Star-Advertiser.

With passionate supporters and opponents of the proposed civil union measure expected to show up in force Tuesday at the Hawaii State Capitol for the 9 a.m. hearing of SB232, Sen. Clayton Hee, D-Kahaluu, is preparing for the worst. Hawaii Reporter.

The Hawaii State Senate’s Committee on Judiciary and Labor will hear Senate Bill 232, relating to civil unions, this Tuesday. Hawaii Independent.

Sunshine Market vendors frustrated with plastic bag ban. Garden Island.

Hawaii's unemployment rate is remaining at 6.4 percent for the sixth straight month, according to the state Department of Labor and Industrial Relations. KITV4.

A planned $59 million upgrade of Aloha Stadium is being put on hold while the state restudies the future of the aging facility. Star-Advertiser.

Stricter rules for medical waste disposal is the way to keep syringes and vials out of coastal waters, Leeward Oahu residents who attended a hearing about the Waimanalo Gulch Landfill debris spill said yesterday. Star-Advertiser.

Hawaii County can't borrow its way out of debt, which is why local government should shrink, cut labor costs and end its "culture of entitlement," County Council Chairman Dominic Yagong said Sunday. Tribune-Herald.

A Maui man imprisoned for a vicious attack is getting a new trial thanks to new DNA testing. Hawaii News Now.

When Alvin Jardine III's convictions were vacated and he was released on bail last week in a 20-year-old rape case, it was the first victory of its kind for the Hawaii Innocence Project. Maui News.

Traveling more than 200 miles above the Earth and going 17,500 miles an hour, NASA astronaut Daniel Tani never tired of watching the Earth go by in the window of the International Space Station. West Hawaii Today.

Mayor Bernard Carvalho Jr. was in Washington, D.C., last week attending the 79th Winter Meeting of The U.S. Conference of Mayors, a news release states. Garden Island.

Tutu and Me may be a traveling preschool program, but it just found a second location to call home on Molokai. Molokai Dispatch.

Monday, February 16, 2009

Gov. Lingle goes to Washington

Gov. Linda Lingle heads to Washing-
ton D.C., Thursday to join coll-
eagues from other states, three common-
wealths and two territories for the winter meeting of the National Governors Association.

Jobs, the economy, infrastructure and health care top the list of concerns the NGA will tackle during the three-day meeting. Lingle doesn’t plan to return to Hawaii until Friday, Feb. 27. Lt. Gov. James “Duke” Aiona will join Lingle for some of the sessions.

The itinerary includes a black-tie evening with President Obama and the First Lady on Sunday at the White House. Governors return to the White House on Monday, Feb. 23. They’ll hold meetings with Obama and members of his Cabinet on issues important to their states.

States currently are jostling for their share of the $787 billion stimulus plan that Obama is expected to sign into law this week. Hawaii may get almost $1 billion of that.

Under the plan, the states will divide $27 billion – far less than the $64 billion they said they needed – for “shovel ready” infrastructure projects. The law requires the projects to pass federal government’s scrutiny and be judged ready to go within 120 days in order to infuse jobs into the economy quickly.

Founded in 1908, the NGA is the collective voice of the nation's governors and represents governors on Capitol Hill and before the Administration.

Lingle also is scheduled to meet with Sen. Daniel Inouye and Sen. Daniel Akaka, both Democrats from Hawaii.

Lingle’s enthusiasm for energy self-sufficiency will be shared with her colleagues Sunday during a panel discussion with experts on energy infrastructure policy, including siting, regulation, financing and deployment and development of "smart grid" technologies and new pipeline systems. Panelists include Pat Wood III, principal, Wood3 Resources and Jesse Berst, managing director,

"Our nation's competitiveness and national security are inextricably linked to energy," Alaska Gov. Sarah Palin, chairwoman of the Natural Resources Committee, said in a statement. "Establishing an effective, sustainable energy infrastructure system will ensure that we can meet America's future energy needs."

The focus on infrastructure will be highlighted Saturday with the Miller Center Discussion and Debate about Infrastructure. Modeled on Oxford-style debates, the Miller Center National Debate series looks at issues surrounding America's role in the world, its responsibility to its citizens and the way its policies fulfill its founding principles.

The debate will focus on balancing a federal infrastructure policy with energy, environmental and economic priorities. Robert MacNeil, former co-anchor of the MacNeil/Lehrer NewsHour, will moderate. Panelists include NGA Chairman Pennsylvania Gov. Ed Rendell; California Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger; Douglas Foy, president of DIF Enterprises; and JayEtta Hecker, senior fellow of the Bipartisan Policy Center.

The last half hour of debate will be question and answer session among all governors. The debate will be webcast live.

Sunday, January 25, 2009

Step aside, YouTube. Here comes GovTube

Step aside, YouTube. Here comes GovTube.

Gov. Linda Lingle is going to scoop herself on her most important speech of the year – her annual State of the State address to the Hawaii Legislature.

Her speech is scheduled for 10 a.m. Monday. If past years are an indication, she’ll speak to a crowded chamber, where lei-decked dignitaries and state and local officials listen intently, applauding or chuckling at the appropriate places. As in previous years, her speech will be shown live on her Web site.

Before all that, however, is a “Pre-State of the State GovTube Webcast,” set for 9 a.m. and featuring Lt. Gov. James “Duke” Aiona, as well as Transportation Director Brennon Morioka, Land and Natural Resources chairwoman Laura Thielen, Agriculture Director Sandra Lee Kunimoto, Business, Economic Development and Tourism Director Ted Liu and Tourism Liason Marsha Wienert.

Then, after Lingle’s speech, there’s an 11 a.m. hana hou performance on GovTube. This session will feature Lingle’s Senior Policy Advisor, Linda Smith, discussing the administration’s initiatives. Programs taking center stage this year are: Highways Modernization, Recreational Renaissance, Food Self-Sufficiency, Hawaii Clean Energy Initiative and the Five-Point Economic Action Plan. A lot of capital letters to live up to!

Twenty-six of the 50 state governors have already given their State of the State addresses this year, and if their words are any indication, Lingle will be echoing a common theme of hard times, government reform and pulling together.

As compiled by, which has a library of State of the State addresses going back to 2000, here’s how some of the other governors have said it this year:

Jan. 22 speech of Alaska Gov. Sarah Palin, a Republican: “Governor Wally Hickel said he feared more than any economic depression – a depression of the spirit … If there’s a shortfall, there are options. It’ll take a cooperative spirit all around to see us through the uncertainty … And we’re all in this together.” Palin is pushing for a 7-percent budget reduction.

Jan. 13 speech of Arkansas Gov. Mike Beebe, a Democrat: “A common thread runs through our fiscal policies and sets Arkansas apart from other states, a thread spun from the wisdom of careful budgeting. By holding to our traditions of budget stabilization and conservative forecasting, we now find ourselves in an enviable position … Finding success among prosperity is admirable, but if we can capture success and continue moving Arkansas forward during a national recession, it will be a landmark of true achievement.”

Jan. 14 speech of Wyoming Gov. Dave Freudenthal's, a Democrat: “Bear in mind that we are still in remarkably good position relative to other states … We are indeed in a storm. The storm is going to affect this state and this country and those that we love, and those that we don't know. The only thing we can do is to stay focused, stick with the underlying agenda, limit our expenditures, take advantage of the opportunity to review how we're spending money and become much more focused about the future.”

Jan. 14 speech of Washington Gov. Christine Gregoire, a Democrat: “This is our chance to reform state government to make it a more nimble and relevant partner in a new state economy. … Ladies and gentlemen, we need to reboot! … Over the decades, state government has evolved — layer upon layer upon layer. But too much of what served the people well in 1940 or 1960 or 1990 does not serve the people well in the 21st century.”

Jan. 6 speech of North Dakota Gov. John Hoeven, a Republican: “Ladies and gentlemen, the state of our state is strong. Eight years ago North Dakota did not have funding in its reserve account. Together, with purpose and a plan, we not only took the steps necessary to grow and diversify our economy but also to build our financial reserves. … When I say the state of our state is strong, however, I am mindful of the fact that as many as 41 other states are facing budget deficits this year or next. Clearly, our nation's economy is in a down-cycle, and we in North Dakota are not immune from its effects.”

Jan. 15 speech of Nevada Gov. Jim Gibbons, a Republican: “The budget that I submit today reflects our current economic realities. It is $2.2 billion smaller than the one we submitted just two years ago. It is also a budget based on the money we have, without taking more from residents and businesses that are already making do with less. It is a budget that requires us to live within our means … I take no joy in submitting a budget that eliminates, reduces, or changes many things that we have grown to expect in Nevada – many things we have taken for granted when times have been good, and many programs we have added when times have been great.”