POSTED: 1:30 a.m. HST, Oct 22, 2010
LAST UPDATED: 5:49 p.m. HST, Oct 28, 2010
As Hawaii struggles to emerge from the nationwide recession, a fresh start is needed following the acrimony of recent years in state government. Some may regard Neil Abercrombie, with more than three decades in public office, as a figure of the past. However, his plans have energy and his experience is an enormous asset to lead the state as governor through the years ahead with positive and innovative policies.
Bolstered by the state Council of Revenues expectation of increased state revenue without need for tax increases, Hawaii is in a position to make better use of resources to charge ahead on positive measures taken by the present administration and make improvements where badly needed.
Republican Gov. Linda Lingle fought with the Democratic Legislature and public employee unions throughout her tenure. At least four more years with Lt. Gov. James "Duke" Aiona at the helm after two terms as Lingle's intern would bring more of the same, with Lynn Finnegan in Aiona's present spot. We believe such conflicts would ease under the administration of Abercrombie, a canny political veteran, and lieutenant governor running mate Brian Schatz.
Nobody in Hawaii's history can come close to matching Democrat Abercrombie's extensive public service at different levels, including terms in the City Council, the state House and Senate and, for nearly 20 years, as the representative of urban Honolulu in the U.S. House. His understanding of how government works is invaluable.
Days off without pay for employees have soiled the city and state governments, including public schools, in the past year, and that may be needed to a lesser degree in the year ahead to assure a balanced budget. Economic experts have predicted substantial increases in state revenue through the following four years, bringing stability to government.
Abercrombie plans to create an independent Hawaii Energy Authority to guide policies aimed at reducing the state's heavy dependence on imported fossil fuel, policies that Lingle enthusiastically initiated with bipartisan support. The present disjointed sharing of energy policies between the Public Utilities Commission and the state Energy Office would be eliminated, as it should be.
Abercrombie also wants to create a state Department of Early Childhood, integrating services now spread across several departments. Other than that, it is unclear at this point what authority the next governor will have over the public school system. Both Abercrombie and Aiona support a constitutional amendment on the Nov. 2 ballot to allow the governor to appoint members of the Board of Education, now elected by voters; similar measures have been rejected twice in the past, although most voters have not been knowledgeable about BOE candidates.
Aiona is a social conservative with strong religious beliefs; he opposes dispensaries of marijuana for medical purposes, even though that use is legal in Hawaii, and civil unions of same-sex couples, which he maintains would be an affront to marriage between man and woman, as defined by state law. Abercrombie agrees with the Star-Advertiser's support of responsible medical marijuana distribution and of civil unions.
Abercrombie's plans for improving and in some cases renovating the operation of state government are ambitious. Aiona's goal essentially is to extend the policies and practices of the Lingle administration. We urge voters to embrace change and cast their votes for Abercrombie and Schatz.