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Abercrombie defends isle plans

By Derrick DePledge

POSTED:
LAST UPDATED: 09:27 a.m. HST, Nov 05, 2010



Former U.S. Rep. Neil Abercrombie said yesterday that proposals in "A New Day in Hawaii," his blueprint if elected governor, would cost little or no state money in the short term and would not be fully implemented until the state's economy recovers from the recession.

Abercrombie, a Democrat, has called for the creation of a new state Department of Early Childhood, a new Hawaii Energy Authority, an advisory group on technology and the restoration of state spending on child-abuse prevention, agricultural inspectors and historic preservation officers.

Abercrombie said he would not raise the general excise tax to finance his proposals, but would instead prioritize existing state spending. He said some of his large-scale proposals would not be implemented until the state recovers economically and more state and federal resources become available.

"We intend to work with the existing numbers. We intend to make maximum use of the public dollars. We intend to make maximum use of the capacity to restructure, reorient, reprioritize what we're doing with state government," he said at a news conference at his campaign headquarters with Brian Schatz, his lieutenant governor running mate.

"We will not be raising taxes. What we will be doing is utilizing state government in a way that brings the hope and change that people want."

Lt. Gov. James "Duke" Aiona, his Republican opponent, has also pledged not to raise the general excise tax and to work within existing state spending levels. But he has questioned how Abercrombie would finance his new proposals and said yesterday that Abercrombie once again failed to explain his blueprint in sufficient detail.

"As we've said all along, our opponents' plan is heavy on rhetoric and light on substance. Writing a plan to implement a plan is exactly the type of Washington politics we don't need more of in Hawaii," Aiona said in a statement. "Nothing in my opponents' new plan or their old plan would immediately create private-sector jobs.

"This is a desperate attempt by our opponents to salvage their failing plan."

Abercrombie said he would maximize federal money available to the state and build on his connections to Hawaii-born President Obama and majority Democrats in Congress. Aiona said Abercrombie's proposals are overly dependent on federal money that may be temporary or not available. He also said the political composition of Congress and the White House could change in the next two years.

Aiona has criticized Abercrombie for taking a week off for personal time after the primary and for not agreeing to his challenge of six issue-oriented debates, calling the former congressman's approach to the general election "arrogant."

"I would think that Lt. Gov. Aiona ought to take a look in the mirror," Abercrombie said. "Apparently the Lingle-Aiona administration has taken time off for the last 7 1/2 years."






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