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Abercrombie calls for lawmakers to bolster economy, education

By B.J. Reyes

LAST UPDATED: 06:33 p.m. HST, Jan 22, 2013

Gov. Neil Abercrombie today delivered his third State of the State speech, calling on lawmakers to invest in early childhood education and renewable energy initiatives while also putting forth proposals aimed at strengthening the economy and supporting workers.

Speaking to a joint session of the Legislature, Abercrombie repeated his proposed goals of updating the state's antiquated technology systems and investing in youth by providing all public school students with a laptop or tablet computer — on which to receive a statewide core curriculum — within three years.

He augmented his “New Day” plan outlined in previous speeches with ambitious proposals that include allowing the Department of Education to lease underused land to generate money that could be used toward improving schools.

“Our primary and priority initiatives need to be aimed at preparing ourselves as we assess the demands of the 21st century,” Abercrombie said. “We need to look at state government and the budget, our energy goals, our economy and our kupuna and our keiki.”

Among the initiative likely to get a lot of attention is a proposed increase in the minimum wage, by $1.50, to $8.75 an hour, starting in 2014.

“Everyone is worthy of their labor,” he said. “Industry and corporations do not lack support in these halls, neither should those who work hardest for the least return.”

Abercrombie also announced the formation of a task force that would study the impact on jobs and the economy stemming from the announced closing of one of the state’s two oil refineries. Tesoro Corp. announced earlier this month it would be closing its Kapolei refinery and converting it to a terminal, shedding about 200 jobs.

Abercrombie urged lawmakers to begin weaning the isles off fossil fuels through investment in alternative energy initiatives such as liquefied natural gas while noting that his administration would work with the Legislature to strike an “appropriate balance” on solar tax credits.

The Department of Business, Economic Development and Tourism also will be tasked with proposing a funding mechanism that would allow residents, small business and others take advantage of alternative energy projects such as photovoltaic panels.

“No longer will a photovoltaic system be only available to those who can afford the significant initial investment,” he said.

His energy proposals also included redistribution of the barrel tax toward projects in energy diversification, food safety and food security.

Lawmakers should also look toward preservation initiatives, he said, urging further protection of crucial watersheds.

He said he will be asking the Legislature to look at alternative methods of funding watershed protection programs, such as in increase in the conveyance tax on high-end property transactions or a 10-cent fee charged for the use of single-use plastic checkout bags. Those proposals would generate about $10 million and $15 million respectively, he said.

Toward future obligations, Abercrombie called on lawmakers to support his proposals to replenish the Hawaii Hurricane Relief Fund and the rainy day fund – both of which have been tapped to balance the state budget – and to make payments toward funding retirement benefits for public workers.

Abercrombie opened his speech with a call toward elevating the public discourse, saying controversy over initiatives such as the Public Land Development Corporations should not impede the intended goals of those projects. He said the PLDC, which was given broad exemptions from land use, planning and zoning laws as incentives to attract private developers for projects on state land, was “an attempt to answer the struggle to come out of the worst recession in recent memory.”

He made no other mention of the PLDC in his speech. Last week, Abercrombie said he would consider a repeal of the PLDC if the Legislature is unable to adjust the law to satisfy pubic objections.

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alfie1 wrote:
HOW did abbercomie from BUFFAL NY-get here where were the local politions to get the job. yep- it just does not get any better!!!!/aloha
on January 22,2013 | 11:12AM
Waterman2 wrote:
He learned his lines well.......no local boy could compare, they are too honest.
on January 22,2013 | 11:31AM
peanutgallery wrote:
Yeah right. They've been dipping their beaks right along side the others. Don't be so naive'.
on January 22,2013 | 04:55PM
Kawipoo wrote:
The way government helps the job market is to get out of the way. Trolls are hated on the mainland and they end up over here disrupting everything.
on January 22,2013 | 11:35AM
HD36 wrote:
That's true, the best way they can help is go to the bar and leave us alone.
on January 22,2013 | 07:34PM
sluggah wrote:
Yup, I really think they give a rat's rear for business. They're mostly attorneys, they think business is something to prey on.
on January 22,2013 | 11:40AM
loquaciousone wrote:
Raising the minimum wage is a good way to get a lot of people on the low end of the pay scale a chance to stand in the unemployment line. More headaches for business owners.
on January 22,2013 | 11:52AM
Wazdat wrote:
YUP, more of the give me state. get an EDUCATION and get a GOOD JOB.
on January 22,2013 | 02:14PM
HD36 wrote:
I've been to countries where the minimum wage is $16 an hour. A bowl of Chow Fun with beef was $26 in a run down place.
on January 22,2013 | 07:36PM
sailfish1 wrote:
What countries are those?
on January 22,2013 | 07:52PM
GooglyMoogly wrote:
"posy-employment"? For God's sake, you're a newspaper...run the freaking spell check.
on January 22,2013 | 12:03PM
ezridah wrote:
probably a case of fat fingers since the "T" is next to the "Y" on the keyboard
on January 22,2013 | 12:35PM
toomuchpilikia wrote:
We already spend too much money on education with poor results. Let's do a little house cleaning in the DOE (Top Heavy) before spending more money!
on January 22,2013 | 12:45PM
allie wrote:
Neil is right: We need to invest in early education to get much better results from the K-12
on January 22,2013 | 01:31PM
Bdpapa wrote:
We don't have to invest in early childhood education by opening them in our schools. Let the private sector continue doing it and give parents tax credits and for those who qualify expand Head Start.
on January 22,2013 | 01:48PM
false wrote:
That's right let the private sector do it for heavens sake. The state tried and continues to fail.
on January 22,2013 | 03:30PM
Pacej001 wrote:
Head Start. Even the Dept. of Health and Human Services admits the benefits of this program are gone after about grade three. So, why more money to do something that doesn't work. Oh, I forgot, "it's for the children".
on January 22,2013 | 04:43PM
peanutgallery wrote:
Hate to enlighten you Allie, but that's a parent's job, not the community. I don't care what Hilary said.
on January 22,2013 | 04:57PM
localguy wrote:
Allie, when you start paying taxes you will understand Neil hasn't got a clue. Parents are responsible for all pre school costs, not another burden on tax payers. Now if Neil can kill some of his wasteful, non core government services programs and use that money to fund it, not a problem. Again, no more new taxes to cover pre school.
on January 22,2013 | 09:26PM
Bdpapa wrote:
That's right clean house.
on January 22,2013 | 01:46PM
sluggah wrote:
True dat, the DOE is layers and layers of entrenched bureaucrats. HGEA is Neil's biggest sponsor and he will do jack.
on January 22,2013 | 02:40PM
false wrote:
Clean out the whole state system while you're at it.
on January 22,2013 | 03:29PM
lawman1175 wrote:
Yep. Feds have a very similar program, which recent studies are showing do NOT produce results.
on January 22,2013 | 03:57PM
sailfish1 wrote:
That's right. The State can't even get the current education system working properly. Now they want to expand into early childhood education - they'll botch that up too!
on January 22,2013 | 07:55PM
Maneki_Neko wrote:
Abs gonna give me a computer!

Abs gonna give me a photovoltaic system!

Abs gonna give me more money!

Abs gonna build me a 650 foot apartment house!

Allow me to translate.....Abs gonna raise taxes and redistribute the money!

on January 22,2013 | 12:46PM
Bdpapa wrote:
Abs gonna do a lot of things......And we are going to pay for it!
on January 22,2013 | 01:49PM
MakaniKai wrote:
I voted for Duke. I have never in my lifetime been able to figure out how Neil continues to get elected, except for the “D”. His view is not in the best interest of Hawaii. Neil and his perpetual 60’s mentality are all about BIG GOVERNMENT spending and yelling from his soapbox what is best for you and your Ohana. Gov. you do not need more and more of my hard earned kala. Preschool, laptops and/or tablets can’t afford it. Fix the current school system. It is 2013 not the plantation era! I have a Mom who read to us took us on field trips and the beach before entering Kindergarten. I fared well with a Bachelors of Science and good job. Note to the Gov, lay off da lei – you look silly….H_ _ _ _. Aloha.
on January 22,2013 | 12:58PM
allie wrote:
Duke is a little slow intellectually but a nice guy
on January 22,2013 | 01:32PM
false wrote:
You shouldn't say those things.
on January 22,2013 | 03:32PM
turbolink wrote:
You were quite critical of him during the recent campaign, and he wasn't even running. Allie, I think you might have some latent Republican genes sneaking out.
on January 22,2013 | 04:28PM
Nalukai wrote:
He's wayyyyyy quicker than you. what have you done for Hawaii ?
on January 22,2013 | 05:32PM
Wazdat wrote:
D is Hawaii stands for SHEEP and UNION CONTROL
on January 22,2013 | 02:15PM
HonoluluHawaii wrote:
Not totally though: Lingle got in there twice and there is a smattering of Republicans in The Legislature. On the other hand, maybe Neil can outlaw The Republican Party in Hawaii, to save the expense of having a Primary Election.
on January 22,2013 | 09:20PM
false wrote:
Abs may have been a mistake but Duke would have been a disaster.
on January 22,2013 | 03:32PM
Nalukai wrote:
tell taht to the teachers
on January 22,2013 | 05:55PM
loquaciousone wrote:
Neil wants to replenish the Hurricane fund so that he can start using his special funded ATM card again.
on January 22,2013 | 01:02PM
HonoluluHawaii wrote:
Ha ha ha ha ha ha ha ha ha
on January 22,2013 | 09:16PM
LanaAloha wrote:
Economy and education are always laudable goals. I hope President Obama focuses more on the economy this term.
on January 22,2013 | 01:21PM
HonoluluHawaii wrote:
Better yet, DO NOT focus on the economy. Let us do it ourselves.
on January 22,2013 | 09:15PM
scooters wrote:
I don't want to pay for a Freaking FREE LAPTOP for any one. What's wrong with the parents paying for it? Nothing!! Let them pay on a credit card. Ever heard of a pencil & paper and PARENT INVOLVEMENT with their childs education? Get real 'Minne Me". SURF's Up, is not the cry for getting educated...
on January 22,2013 | 01:33PM
Bdpapa wrote:
No free laptops! What you gonna do when the get lost or stolen?
on January 22,2013 | 01:50PM
false wrote:
Or damaged.
on January 22,2013 | 03:36PM
HonoluluHawaii wrote:
Call HPD or Hawaii Five-O.
on January 22,2013 | 09:14PM
MakaniKai wrote:
Society ends up paying in the long run for lazy parenting. Abs and the DOE should take note of the following: http://www.nytimes.com/2011/10/23/technology/at-waldorf-school-in-silicon-valley-technology-can-wait.html?pagewanted=all AND http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=irYGaMG1qao Aloha.
on January 22,2013 | 02:03PM
false wrote:
Just because the private schools provide laptops doesn't mean we have to pass them out in the public. Those laps tops are in the TUITION. Sheez. Didn't anyone figure that one out?
on January 22,2013 | 03:35PM
sailfish1 wrote:
Most children with responsible caring parents already have laptops or tablets. Those that don't have access to computers at schools (and also libraries). The State DOE should not take on any more responsibilities until they fix all the problems in our school systems that they caused.
on January 22,2013 | 08:00PM
HonoluluHawaii wrote:
Neil, are you in touch with your citizens?
on January 22,2013 | 09:13PM
NicholasGMLum wrote:
It amazes me how government spends taxpayers money with no sense of accountability of the results of how the money is spent. Hawaii is a beautiful place, but when most workers are measured for jobs on the mainland, it's harder for them, because of the level of education and integration into the marketplace. Does the Star Advertiser ever ask the politicians how they are going to pay for all the spending they want to appropriate? And proposing the minimum wage going to $8.75. Does the Star Advertiser ever do an impact on businesses? The Miliken Institute ranked Honolulu 105th on its best performing cities? Does the Star Advertiser report why that is? I used to want to be a journalist. But with all the ones that say they are, and they just chase after the pop stories and do nothing with substance and thought, I am glad that I didn't. No one would hire me. :-(
on January 22,2013 | 01:59PM
HonoluluHawaii wrote:
omg we are 105th and we want the rail?
on January 22,2013 | 09:12PM
localguy wrote:
With rail we rank 205th.
on January 22,2013 | 09:30PM
Wazdat wrote:
I sure we have someone with a BRAIN running next year, time to get this guy OUT OF OFFICE.
on January 22,2013 | 02:14PM
sluggah wrote:
Brains need not apply(see Maizie and Coleen), kiss up to gummint unions and big business, you da man.
on January 22,2013 | 02:43PM
bodysurf_ah wrote:
This comment has been deleted.
on January 22,2013 | 03:01PM
false wrote:
I'm sure you earn yours but there a lot of you who should be permanently furlough.
on January 22,2013 | 03:37PM
peanutgallery wrote:
Vote Democrat. It sure beats working for a living, and when we run out of money, we'll just raise taxes on ourselves. Yeah baby! Works for me.
on January 22,2013 | 04:58PM
st1d wrote:
homeless: forgotten again.

rail: not a word.

taxes: new taxes, and old taxes increased.

democrats, got to love how they protect the benefits of their core voters.

on January 22,2013 | 03:53PM
Nalukai wrote:
That's it, I run a very successful business, pay my employee's well, I don't need the gimp telling me what to pay my people.....employers and employees all lose.
on January 22,2013 | 05:29PM
HonoluluHawaii wrote:
See my comment at 9:02PM.
on January 22,2013 | 09:06PM
kaiakea wrote:
I'd like to see the Legislature finally provide equity funding for charter schools. Every complains about the DOE, well, now there is a chance to do something, which is to provide an alternative in the charter schools. Equity funding levels the playing field, so to say, so they can really show what they can do.
on January 22,2013 | 05:42PM
HonoluluHawaii wrote:
"Among the initiative likely to get a lot of attention is a proposed increase in the minimum wage, by $1.50, to $8.75 an hour, starting in 2014."

That increase seems like a lot and it is: 1.50 / (8.75 - 1.50) = 20%.

Therefore, a reduction in State tax rates, just for those receiving these increases in minimum wages, would help a lot to offset the increase in the dollar amount of State Taxes. Note also the increase in tax payments to the federal government, which includes Social Security and Medicare. All that the minimum wage increase does is to place more of a burden on employers who are already stressed to the limit.

Considering that many of the minimum wage positions are in the tourist industry and the restaurant business, would we not be strangling the economic recovery, due to the need for Hotels and Restaurants to raise their room rates and menu prices and hence choke off a blossoming recovery ??

In other words, that raise in the minimum wage appears to be another clever money grab disguised by our Liberal Lawmakers !! Seems better to reduce the size of The State Government AND increase the minimum wage.

on January 22,2013 | 09:02PM
HonoluluHawaii wrote:
Including your HSA, which would probably raise the daily price to $1.00.
on January 22,2013 | 09:08PM
localguy wrote:
Sad to see Neil just doesn't get it. He thinks he can reach into our pockets to cover his pre school plan. He and parents, fail to realize parents are directly responsible for the costs resulting from their few minutes of pleasure. Your child, your responsibility to pay for pre school. Taxpayers already cover K-12, K being pre school. Any other costs belong to the parent. if not, our clueless BOE/DOE/HSTA would as for a pre school management staff of about a thousand bureaucrats to "manage" the program. This is what they do, waste our money. Sorry Neil, you idea is dead where it stands.
on January 22,2013 | 09:24PM
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