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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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what wrote:
This session is already a joke. They have already decided to spend more money than they have. They have already accepted a budget millions of dollars over the amount of money that they have to spend. They are disrespecting the taxpayers of Hawaii by behaving incompetently. And for that, they will pat themselves on the back for a job well done and vote themselves another 36% pay raise.
on January 18,2012 | 10:57AM
Kuniarr wrote:
Democrats seems to engage in fuzzy math. How can the State have a so-called "balanced budget" when the thing called revenue is not revenue in the true sense of the word but borrowed money from the issuance of general obligatin bonds. The truth is that the State has a budget deficit, not a balanced budget.
on January 18,2012 | 11:16AM
Changalang wrote:
If Citi is still in business after they settle with the U.S. on the mortgage backed security scandal that triggered this global mess, then we may get up to $115 million in the general fund in July from investment "missteps" of the last Administration......"Under the agreement with Citigroup, the state can obtain “interim liquidity” on as much as $150 million of the securities from July 2012 at market value."........Gov. Abs already restructured old bad debt negotiations. Speaker Say is correct. Slow and steady wins the race and gets us out of peril from past mistakes. The benefits of Hawaii is that one party leadership provides alignment for common good; vs. the current stalemate in D.C. Lucky we live Hawaii, today.
on January 18,2012 | 11:30AM
Kuniarr wrote:
Our Republic is founded on check a system of checks and balances in our government.
on January 18,2012 | 01:12PM
Changalang wrote:
The voters of Hawaii did CHECK where they had been and responded appropriately on November 2010. The new Governor and current Legislature did BALANCE the fiscal mistakes of the past as best as possible and will continue to move us forward unimpeded by the failures of the past. Nothing like a Democratic election to really check and balance the Republic.
on January 18,2012 | 02:25PM
Changalang wrote:
Make that Republic(ans); pronounced "ends".
on January 18,2012 | 02:46PM
Kuniarr wrote:
Of course after eating crow for eight years.
on January 18,2012 | 05:36PM
Kuniarr wrote:
A new day
on January 18,2012 | 05:39PM
Kuniarr wrote:
Problem is there is nothing new about it but the same old tax and spend mentality. Calling a budget deficit balanced. And borrowed money as surplus. And the spending spree is scheduled to continue with the intent to issue another $1.2 B in general obligation bonds. No new taxes they say except that how is the state to pay back principal and interest on $3.5 B worth of general obligation bonds?
on January 18,2012 | 05:52PM
Changalang wrote:
The old day was an experiment Hawaii will never forget. Watch that $10 million campaign keep a double digit spread for any "D". Well worth 8 years, to save Hawaii for generations.
on January 18,2012 | 06:31PM
Changalang wrote:
"In June 2015, the state will have the option to require Citi to purchase some or all the remaning auction rate securities. The state has also released potential claims against Citi in connection with its investments in auction rate securities. Auction rate debt has rates that reset in periodic auctions. The auction-rate market froze early in 2008 in the wake of a credit crunch that destroyed the top ratings of some insurance companies that insured much of the debt. Citi could not immediately be reached for comment by Reuters."
on January 18,2012 | 06:41PM
Kuokoa wrote:
REMEMBER -- government DO NOT create jobs. Businesses do! Ok?
on January 18,2012 | 12:36PM
Dragonman wrote:
Build a casino on each of the Hawaiian Islands and they will reap a tax windfall. Tourist will tour the islands during the day and gamble at night. Yes the locals will gamble too but they are already going to Vegas and elsewhere, lets keep the money at home. If you think gambling is not going on illegally in Hawaii now you don't know Hawaii. I only gamble in Vegas once a year but if I wanted to place a bet in Hawaii this weekend I can do so easily through friends connected with organized gambling houses that are not paying taxes.
on January 18,2012 | 01:09PM
bigislandkurt wrote:
Gaming Now!
on January 18,2012 | 02:48PM
Changalang wrote:
Maybe because we are getting the lost 1.09 Billion back finally. 2015 is far away, but it will be good to know that our leaders are confident that AG Bennett's settlement will come to fruition....."The market, which once stood at $330 billion, collapsed in 2008 as banks stopped using their own cash to prop up the auctions. That left investors with bonds they couldn’t sell and forced borrowers such as hospitals to pay a premium. Bloomberg News reported in March that the securities were sold to Hawaii as low-risk substitutes for U.S. Treasury bills by Citigroup broker Pete Thompson in Honolulu. . . . according to the report by Higa. The holdings climbed from $427 million in July of 2007 to almost $1.1 billion in February 2008, when the auctions that allowed investors to sell the bonds began failing. The settlement won’t result in a charge for Citigroup because the expected costs are covered under previously accumulated legal reserves, said a person with knowledge of the matter who requested anonymity. Saber Partners LLC, a New York-based financial adviser, assisted Hawaii in the negotiations with Citigroup, said the firm’s chief executive officer, Joseph Fichera."
on January 18,2012 | 06:38PM
Changalang wrote:
Oops; wrong place. :)
on January 18,2012 | 06:41PM
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