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Cautious optimism and austerity mark start of 2012 Legislature

By B.J. Reyes

Honolulu Star-Advertiser

LAST UPDATED: 12:38 p.m. HST, Jan 18, 2012

State lawmakers opened the 2012 session today with cautious optimism, calling on colleagues to spur job growth and protect a slowly recovering economy while holding the line on taxes and new spending

."For the short-term, we must maintain stability with respect to the state budget," said House Speaker Calvin Say (D, St. Louis Heights-Wilhelmina Valley-Palolo Rise) in prepared remarks. "Maintaining stability means no new taxes for state government from residents and businesses.

"Maintaining stability means no major general fund appropriation increases for the expansion of state programs."
Opening day ceremonies this morning are muted, with none of the traditional entertainment as lawmakers sought to strike a business-like tone for the start of session.
In his remarks, Senate Minority Leader Sam Slom, the chamber's lone Republican, criticized Democrats for the "lack of aloha" in curtailing the festivities, but asked colleagues to take a similar approach toward their legislation.
"Expenses must be cut back in the legislature – just as individuals, families, and small business have been doing for years –- but not just for opening day," Slom (R-Diamond Head-Hawaii Kai) said.
Senate President Shan Tsutsui pledged to support Gov. Neil Abercrombie in three key areas highlighted by the administration in recent months -- growing a sustainable economy, investing in people and transforming government.
To accomplish that, he emphasized job creation through repair and maintenance projects, streamlining the permitting and purchasing processes, continuing development of alternative energy programs and creating efficiencies through technology in his speech.
Tsutsui also pushed to work with the House on reviewing the governor's proposed ceded lands settlement with the Office of Hawaiian Affairs. 

House Speaker Calvin Say's opening day speech Senate President Shan Tsutsui's opening day speech

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