Prompted by the death this weekend of Honolulu Police Department officer Garret Davis, Gov. Neil Abercrombie began his State of the State address this morning by remembering Davis and Eric Fontes, both killed in accidents during traffic stops.
In prepared remarks, the governor struck an optimistic tone in his second state of the state address, proposing investments in construction, early childhood education, technology and renewable energy while avoiding any discussion of new taxes.
Abercrombie also thanked lawmakers for legislative moves last year that helped the state climb out of a budget deficit that grew to $1.2 billion.
The governor was delivering his State of the State address this morning to a joint session of the Legislature.
"Together we are moving forward," Abercrombie said in prepared remarks. "And moving forward means leaving behind the drama of the recent past."
The governor’s supplemental budget request for this year, presented to lawmakers in December, seeks $188 million in new state spending for fiscal year 2013, a 1.7 percent increase.
Abercrombie said he is asking the Legislature for $1.8 million in emergency funds for a grant to the National Kidney Foundation to support services for patients affected by the recent closure of two Hawaii Medical Center hospitals.
Some of Abercrombie’s specific budget proposals outlined today included:
>> $10 million to consolidate the state’s technology resources under the Office of Information Management and Technology.
>> $2.9 million to enhance online services and to initiate a "one-to-one" laptop program to provide a laptop computer for all public school students.
>> $5 million to protect state watersheds.
>> $1.4 million to begin establishing "one stop shops" to provide information to elderly residents who need help facing the challenges of aging and restricted mobility.
>> $1 million for early childhood education and health initiatives, including the formation of a task force to study the health risks posed by sugar-sweetened beverages, and then propose a solution. Abercrombie last year proposed a tax on soda and other soft drinks as an effort to stem such risks.
Abercrombie thanked labor unions for sharing in the sacrifice of the recent past year through pay cuts and furloughs, while stressing that the state still awaits a new contract with the state’s public school teachers. The Hawaii State Teachers Association last week rejected the most recent contract proposal.
He outlined his administration’s effort to combat homelessness and the state’s prison population.
Abercrombie also highlighted the proposed $200 million settlement with the state Office of Hawaiian Affairs over former crown lands. The settlement involves the transfer of state lands along the waterfront at Kakaako that Hawaiians may redevelop.
"It brings closure to this longstanding rift allowing both the native Hawaiian community and the state to move forward," Abercrombie said.
The governor also said he was appointing Lt. Gov. Brian Schatz to oversee and prioritize alternative energy programs.
He highlighted two agreements signed during the November Asia-Pacific Economic Cooperation summit – an agreement signed with China aimed at advancing business opportunities in renewable energy, and a second agreement with a Japan-based organization to build a first-of-its-kind smart grid demonstration project on Maui.