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Abercrombie pushes minimum wage increase in annual address

By Star-Advertiser staff

LAST UPDATED: 01:05 p.m. HST, Jan 21, 2014

Gov. Neil Abercrombie touted the state's economic recovery, called for an increase in the minimum wage and pushed his plan for preschool for all of Hawaii's 4-year-olds in his fourth State of the State address this morning before the Legislature.

The governor's speech comes during an election year, something he noted while talking about his preschool plan.

"I realize this is an election year. Political agendas and ambitions are being formulated. But let us take children out of these equations. Let us resolve -- all of us -- to be champions of children. You have my pledge and my word on that," he said.

Abercrombie convinced the Legislature last session to place a constitutional amendment on the ballot in November on whether state money should be used for private preschool, part of his plan to eventually offer preschool to all of the state's 4-year-olds. But lawmakers approved only a fraction of the governor's preschool spending request, a $6 million expansion of Preschool Open Doors, a child-care program.

He asked for $8 million for the program this year. "Our plan is targeted, aimed at helping those who otherwise have little or no options. These initial investments will serve an additional 1,040 children and their families," he said.

Abercrombie also called for an increase in minimum wage, a proposal that failed last year.

"A hard-working sector in our community has gone seven without seeing their wages rise." he said. "Therefore, I will be proposing a bill to increase the minimum wage by $1.50 to at least $8.75 starting in January 2015. Average weekly earnings have increased 16 percent since 2007. For minimum wage workers, it's zero."

Last year, the governor pushed a minimum wage increase to $8.75 or more from the current $7.25, but lawmakers couldn't agree how much to increase the 25-cent tip credit, the amount businesses can deduct per hour from waiters, valets and other workers who earn tips.

The Democratic governor also highlighted an $844 million general fund surplus and said it represents a turnaround of more than $1 billion since 2010. 

Looking ahead, Abercrombie said other priorities include preserving open spaces at Turtle Bay, supporting the Thirty-Meter Telescope, endorsing initiatives to fund invasive species programs and providing housing for the "chronically homeless and those who suffer from a disability." 

He also pushed for tax relief for the elderly. He's proposing to exempt any currently taxed income from all sources, including tax retirement income, for taxpayers who are 65 years old and older. Exemptions would be for those with an adjusted gross income of $25,000 -- or $35,000 for heads of households and $45,000 who file jointly. 

Abercrombie said this gives seniors assurances that their retirement income won't be taxed and the plan will help as many as 25,000 Hawaii seniors.


Abercrombie's speech comes in a year in which he is seeking re-election.

State Sen. David Ige (D, Pearl Harbor-Pearl City-Aiea), chairman of the Senate Ways and Means Committee, is challenging Abercrombie for the Democratic primary.

Former Lt. Gov. James "Duke" Aiona, a Republican who lost badly to Abercrombie in 2010, said on Friday that he intends to run again. Former Honolulu Mayor Mufi Hannemann, who was easily beaten by Abercrombie in the primary in 2010, has considered switching political parties and running as a Republican.


The Associated Press contributed to this report.

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Anonymous wrote:
"Gov. Neil Abercrombie will address the Legislature"... "in which he is expected to tout Hawaii's economic recovery..."

So far we have been "told" that there is an economic recovery but cannot verify it until we "see" the latest financial reports from the comptroller. To date, the state's FY 2013 Comprehensive Annual Financial Report has yet to appear and be posted on the Department of Accounting's website. FY 2013 ended on June 30, 2013.

on January 21,2014 | 01:40AM
lwandcah wrote:
The governor has had nothing to do with any improvement in our states financial health; in fact we appear to be doing pretty well in spite of his governorship (this from a life long democrate). I can't believe he would actually run again, but then again that is what make him a politician; someone who thinks higher of himself and his "accomplishments than he actually is.
on January 21,2014 | 04:39AM
boshio wrote:
Absolutely. Going forward please don't listen too much of what he has to say about anything. He is programed to only say whatever will get him re-elected. He really doesn't care about pre-school, nor higher wages that will effect all of us with higher prices for everything we buy. All he cares about is himself getting re-elected.
on January 21,2014 | 06:14AM
saveparadise wrote:
Agreed. Yeowyeow typical politician. Not his fault when things go wrong but takes credit for the recovery. Blah blah.
on January 21,2014 | 08:28AM
hanalei395 wrote:
"(this from a life long democrate"). ........OK, stay a "democrate". ... Just don't become a democrat, a member of the Democratic Party.
on January 21,2014 | 10:23AM
atilter wrote:
yes, i agree and must add - becoming a "democrat" is no big thing and too much a bother that signifies nothing in the big picture of state! it may be better to a member of neither "party". i'd rather be able o choose the "platform" points i prefer (that work for me and my family and close circle of friends) from anywhere, anyone, at any time rather than the inane dogmatic rants of self-righteous party "member". these people are only in it or themselves - not the public who they were sworn to serve. so we have to look out for ourselves.
on January 21,2014 | 12:37PM
hanalei395 wrote:
@atilter: "I'd rather be able to choose the platform points". ......And the people of Hawai`i DO choose and prefer "the platform points" of the Democratic Party. And that is why they vote Democratic.
on January 21,2014 | 01:32PM
Ezdeewilly wrote:
Come on. Tell everyone how you were born here and they were not. Please
on January 21,2014 | 08:54PM
atilter wrote:
and that's why we have what we have. unquestioned dogma!
on January 21,2014 | 10:20PM
Ezdeewilly wrote:
Wow hanalei, a post different than your usual "I was born here, you were not" I'm impressed.
on January 21,2014 | 08:53PM
Ronin006 wrote:
Abercrombie continues to boast about an $844 million surplus which is utter nonsense and a fraud on the people of Hawaii. What he has failed to tell the public is he borrowed about $860 to accomplish this amazing feat and in so doing he added almost one billion dollars to the state’s debt for his “bond financed” repair, maintenance and construction projects. Hawaii’s state debt per capita is now almost $30,000, the highest per capita of all 50 states. The shocking thing is that no one has challenged Abercrombie on his phone surplus claims.
on January 21,2014 | 03:28PM
nippy68 wrote:
all these politicians are " F.O.S ". right now they are thinking of more lies that they will address to the public to get votes. PLAIN AND SIMPLE.
on January 21,2014 | 05:16AM
inlanikai wrote:
He would run against him?
on January 21,2014 | 05:35AM
serious wrote:
With 1/2 of the Hawaiian population on welfare and the other 1/2 union workers, why would anyone run as a Republican?
on January 21,2014 | 06:07AM
soundofreason wrote:
On that note, did you catch this story today....big news for a state...."like ours"


on January 21,2014 | 06:32AM
serious wrote:
thanks, And against the laws of Illinois, the hotbed of unions and crooks!!! Should be interesting!!
on January 21,2014 | 08:34AM
Kalaheo1 wrote:
"Abercrombie to focus on his 2014 agenda in State of the State speech"

If it's just going to be a bunch of campaign promises, shouldn't his campaign have to buy airtime?

on January 21,2014 | 06:21AM
Maneki_Neko wrote:
You got to admit the Star Ad headline writer had to work overtime to come up with that one. As in, what the hell else would he focus on?
on January 21,2014 | 07:08AM
LanaUlulani wrote:

Roads and public schools are falling apart. Wai'alae Avenue is STILL not fixed. Dictator Abercrombie also bulldozed OVER local people with SB1.

Local people should huli him for what he has done TO them. Higher taxes, new taxes, and "creative financing" touting his thefts as a "surplus." Just DO IT.

on January 21,2014 | 06:22AM
Maipono wrote:
on January 21,2014 | 06:30AM
localguy wrote:
Here we go again. Another clueless bureaucrat trying to take full credit for an area they basically had nothing to do with. So typical. And now mini me wants to stick taxpayers with state daycare. Really Mini Me? Is this the best you can do? How about ensuring the BOE/DOE/HSTA cut out all their fraud and abuse, freeing up more of the available funds to support our children in K-12? Yes, this means you would have to really get to work and do your job. Do not stick taxpayers with more unfunded mandates. Pay down debt, take care of core government infrastructure, conserve our tax dollars, cut out wasteful programs. And most of all, quit kowtowing to the special interest groups. Man up to them and say there is no more money. Just another day in the Nei.
on January 21,2014 | 06:29AM
false wrote:
There are so many more "Minis" in the state offices. They even sound like her.
on January 21,2014 | 06:47AM
HD36 wrote:
Exactly. They have no clue what is going to happen with the economy in the near future.
on January 21,2014 | 06:29PM
soundofreason wrote:
A speech. Great. THAT should fix our standing of being the 2nd most debt ridden per capita state.


on January 21,2014 | 06:30AM
false wrote:
Union influences won't matter. Educators are not snowed by worthless noise. Don't plan on the vote for Abercrombie, a lot of us are awake.
on January 21,2014 | 06:45AM
lowtone123 wrote:
I'm still waiting for this "new day" he was talikng about on election night.
on January 21,2014 | 06:49AM
lowtone123 wrote:
Unless this "new day" looks a lot like the old days.
on January 21,2014 | 06:50AM
Maneki_Neko wrote:
Neil's Gotta Go.
on January 21,2014 | 07:09AM
Tahitigirl55 wrote:
Former Lt. Gov. James "Duke" Aiona, a Republican who lost badly to Abercrombie in 2010, said on Friday that he intends to run again. Former Honolulu Mayor Mufi Hannemann, who was easily beaten by Abercrombie in the primary in 2010, has considered switching political parties and running as a Republican. Agee - I bet all the people who voted for the dummy Abrecrombie are so sick. He has nothing for our State but make trouble. I will again vote for the Duke, he is a good man and he can't do anything worst than Abrecrombie and Mufi did. ------
on January 21,2014 | 11:01AM
mcc wrote:
This guy manages to get in the paper now almost as often as Mufi used to.
on January 21,2014 | 07:12AM
mcc wrote:
Better focus on the homeless before the golden egg is too tarnished by the scene in Waikiki. It is in sad shape and nobody is looking. They are coming up with hair brained ideas to help them get votes. Homelessness is a problem and people need help.
on January 21,2014 | 08:35AM
mcc wrote:
Better focus on the homeless before the golden egg is too tarnished by the scene in Waikiki. It is in sad shape and nobody is looking. They are coming up with hair brained ideas to help them get votes. Homelessness is a problem and people need help.
on January 21,2014 | 08:35AM
Ronin006 wrote:
Don’t be fooled by Abercrombie’s claims an improved economy or that the state had an alleged budget surplus in the past fiscal year. What is not being reported is that Abercrombie, with the help of fellow Democrats in the legislature, has been on a spending binge and is spending millions more than the state is taking in. He is doing it through “bond financed” projects, meaning the state is borrowing hundreds of millions of dollars to finance repair, maintenance and construction projects that are handled outside the operating budget. While claiming an alleged budget surplus for the last fiscal year, Abercrombie actually has driven up the state’s debt by millions more. Hawaii’s debt per capita is now about $30,000, the highest per capita of all 50 states. Abercrombie, of course, will not tell you that.
on January 21,2014 | 08:44AM
Tahitigirl55 wrote:
He is a sick puppy. He is hoping to get re-elected this year. No way he ain't got my vote. He is lost is lala land. I will vote for the Duke.
on January 21,2014 | 10:55AM
Tahitigirl55 wrote:
Former Lt. Gov. James "Duke" Aiona, a Republican who lost badly to Abercrombie in 2010, said on Friday that he intends to run again. Former Honolulu Mayor Mufi Hannemann, who was easily beaten by Abercrombie in the primary in 2010, has considered switching political parties and running as a Republican. I bet there are a lot of people who wish they didn't vote for the idiot Abercrombie. See what happened!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!! You vote for dump people and see what he did for our state?????????????????????????? I will vote for the Duke - I did in 2010 and I will again. At least he can't do anything worst than what has happened these past years. Duke is a good man.
on January 21,2014 | 10:58AM
islandsun wrote:
ABA! Anybody But Abrercrombie.
on January 21,2014 | 11:13AM
HOSSANA wrote:
The two people responsible for the State surplus are Rep. Luke, Chairperson of the House Finance Committee and Sen. Ige, Chairperson of the Senate Ways & Means committee who trimmed the fat from Abercrombie's budget last year where Abercrombie inflated his budget proposals giving monies to everyone and everybody but if it wasn't for Luke & Ige, we would be running a deficit right now. Typical Abercrombie trying to take credit for the surplus and the turnaround in the economy. What a B.S. politico and the people that voted for him and still support this hippie are just as stupid and gullible. PLEASE PEOPLE ...PLEASE WAKEUP AND SEE THROUGH THIS PHONY....
on January 21,2014 | 12:16PM
9ronboz wrote:
Minimum wage increase hurts small businesses.
on January 21,2014 | 12:17PM
MakaniKai wrote:
9ronboz - We know this but Neil doesn't care.
on January 21,2014 | 12:41PM
boshio wrote:
Abercrombie's idea of a minimum wage increase is too little, too late to do any good. If the state has this huge surplus, they should instead exempt the low wage earners from state taxes so there is more cash in their pockets to spend. With a wage increase, only the Feds and state wins by being able to collect more taxes from the poor, while we ALL will pay more for everything we buy. Businesses will surely just past on the added labor cost to consumers.
on January 21,2014 | 12:45PM
HOSSANA wrote:
How can anyone believe this phony who is trying to take credit for the state surplus and turnaround in the economy? Now he is trying to give the monies away and run the largest babysitting operation in the State. Why do you people continue to vote for this politico????
on January 21,2014 | 12:19PM
MakaniKai wrote:
HOSSANA – apparently a lot of people over the vast majority of my lifetime have believed this loser from Buffalo NY. He has handily ruined these islands (along with others) over the years. No “New Day” just one big sad day courtesy of “Uncle Neil”.
on January 21,2014 | 12:48PM
HOSSANA wrote:
You are so right...so very right in your comment. Thank you.
on January 21,2014 | 06:48PM
kainalu wrote:
What Abercrombie has to do is have the State Attorney General's office look into HECO recent shenanigans regarding their claim of too many photovoltaic systems compromising their grids ability. I'm calling BS on that, and the SAG should do something about it.
on January 21,2014 | 12:50PM
Wazdat wrote:
FIX the DOE first
on January 21,2014 | 12:51PM
AhiPoke wrote:
"Abercrombie pushes minimum wage increase in annual address" - Another progressive's effort to dumb down America and build the new plantations, where all the workers are dependent on them. At what point do they provide incentive and value for an education and initiative? I remember when I worked for a minimum wage. I never thought that I deserved a "living wage". It was always my goal to do better for myself. I never expected the government to provide for me.
on January 21,2014 | 01:14PM
holumuahawaii wrote:
Here is a guy who has devoted a long, successful, lifetime to public service. He was born into a world of Jim Crow, racist laws that separated us on the basis of race. He, personally, held in his hands, a half white, half black, baby from Hawaii who went on to become President of the United States. This could not have happened without the Governor's work, Nancie's work, the work of thousands of us for decades. He is the only Governor in the US to commit to public workers...no layoffs, no furloughs, no killing off of collective bargaining rights and laws. Very, very, underrated.
on January 21,2014 | 01:32PM
islandsun wrote:
He sold out for himself. No backbone.
on January 21,2014 | 02:04PM
AhiPoke wrote:
That's your perspective and I respect it. My experience with Neil, which goes back to the days that he was one of my professors at UH, is that of an unprepared full of BS lecturer (he gave the same lecture three times in one semester) who was positioning himself for politics. Remember when he handed out nickels at Ala Moana to gain publicity? During class, he more than once admitted to us students that he would do almost anything to win an election. It was then that I lost respect for him. Yes, he's been "successful" at winning elections but, like all/most politicians, he's sold his sole to do so. IMO, social programs, like minimum wages, welfare, medicaid, etc. are traps that remove incentives for people to improve themselves by making it comfortable to stay where they are. Yes, there are people that need help and I'm okay with providing it. On the other hand I see politicans using these give away programs as a means to win elections by effectively giving away stuff.
on January 21,2014 | 02:09PM
nitpikker wrote:
do you remember him as the "hippie" student activist? i guess now he's the "hippie" gov. he should have changed his image a looong time ago.all he needs is the ponytail.
on January 21,2014 | 04:17PM
lowtone123 wrote:
You have my pledge and my word on that," he said. And how much is that worth?
on January 21,2014 | 02:06PM
Maneki_Neko wrote:
This weekend let's celebrate the Pro Bowl which Neil wanted to kill.
on January 21,2014 | 02:25PM
iwanaknow wrote:
Which may not come this way again so Neil will have the last laugh?
on January 21,2014 | 02:43PM
Hoppy wrote:
I truly believe that the Governor is just saying false promises. He's done it before, and is doing it again just to get re-elected. I think the states surplus came from the many furloughed workers, and that he's benefiting from an up turn in tourism. He didn't do anything to make tourism increase, it just did, without him doing anything to increase it. Also, let's look at his track record. Look at all the people that quit on him because at first he promises this and that to lure people to join his cabinet. Then when they learn of the false promises and can't get along with him, many quit. How can so many quit, is it them or him. What is the commonality here, him. This, in my opinion speaks volumes about his personality and character. He also has put his foot in his mouth on many occasions, saying he will do something, only to be called on it, when he doesn't do it. He is too impulsive and doesn't think things through enough. He puts the cart before the horse. For example, he wants to have the preschool idea, but doesn't check and ask the legislators how they think, which is so important because they are the one's who going to approve the funding or not. If they don't, he'll blame them for it. Wouldn't be more convincing, to announce the plan and also be able to say or show the public that the legislators are also on the same page as he is. He can't, because he doesn't know how to get along with people, again, the example of his cabinet. I usually vote the democratic ticket, but with Neil, I'm seriously going to take a further look at Sen. Ige.
on January 21,2014 | 02:36PM
Hoppy wrote:
In continuation, or the Republican ticket as well. (sorry I hit the submit button on accident before finishing my thought)
on January 21,2014 | 02:41PM
Ken_Conklin wrote:
Here's one way this was the best "State of the State" speech in many years. There was absolutely nothing in it pushing the Akaka bill, or an Executive Order to recognize a "Native Hawaiian" tribe, or a promise to send bushels of money to racial entitlement programs, or to "solve the ceded lands issue", or anything else like that.
on January 21,2014 | 03:05PM
hanalei395 wrote:
What Ken Conklin mentioned, will be in a speech after Abercrombie is re-elected.
on January 21,2014 | 03:55PM
beachbum11 wrote:
Duh! Bye
on January 21,2014 | 08:53PM
JimLoomis wrote:
But if nothing had been done to improve the State's financial picture, you would have laid 100% of the blame for that on Neil with a trowel! So who DOES get the credit, if not the executive head of the administration in charge??
on January 21,2014 | 05:19PM
DAGR81 wrote:
The time has come to dump the dems.
on January 21,2014 | 05:24PM
Christopher_murp wrote:
Instead of adding to our economic woes by increasing the educational burden (also known as daycare), try enforcing existing standards. Reform elementary schools so the children do not advance until the material presented is learned. Divide the course work for each discipline in to 12 levels. If writing needs more study but the student is strong in the other subjects, that course can be repeated as many times as necessary, w/ a different teacher each time, without repeating the work the student has already mastered. Summer can be utilized to help make up these courses if necessary. There is no reason whatsoever to have middle and high school teachers teaching basic math, reading, and writing to any student. If this is fruitful, then pre-school and other early education ideas can be implemented. However, with the current success rate of our public schools, why would we subject our keiki to more of the same mediocracy that is currently presented.
on January 21,2014 | 05:26PM
Christopher_murp wrote:
This minimum wage increase is just a few crumbs designed to appease the sniveling masses that can’t be bothered to stick with a job long enough to learn it and be an asset to the organization. Typical political posturing designed to buy votes with our money.
on January 21,2014 | 05:33PM
niimi wrote:
Ahead of any minimum wage hike we are investing in our business toward labor substitution.
on January 21,2014 | 06:21PM
soundofreason wrote:
Right there with ya. The govt is just providing us the incentive to do it. I'll probably thank them in the long run. Labor from the Philippines runs about $5.00 an hour and no insurance requirement. Who wouldn't? I just haven't had the incentive to look further. I do now. Thanks Neil.
on January 21,2014 | 07:39PM
soundofreason wrote:
Or should I say.....kneel.
on January 21,2014 | 07:40PM
soundofreason wrote:
As I said yesterday, let's de-personalize this issue. Say you have 3 cars - then you get a notice in the mail from your auto insurance company that your rates are going up 30%.............for each. What's the next thing you're going to do? You're going to decide which one is the most valuable to you and which one is not. The not...........is gone.
on January 21,2014 | 07:46PM
CloudForest wrote:
Every time these technocrats open their mouths - I smell treason, manipulation and theft. It scks being that aware of your surroundings!
on January 22,2014 | 12:14AM
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