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Governor points to state’s fiscal fitness as he readies re-election bid

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Gov. Neil Abercrombie, outlining themes for his re-election campaign next year, said Sunday that the “hard choices” he has made since taking office have helped make Hawaii’s state government among the most financially stable in the nation.

At a brunch for campaign supporters under white tents in Kakaako, the governor cited the work of his administration and the Legislature to address unfunded liability in the public-worker pension and health care funds. His administration also negotiated pay cuts with public workers, set to expire at the end of June, that helped steer the state away from deficit.

Abercrombie, who is facing a potential primary challenge from U.S. Rep. Colleen Hana­busa, 

D-Hawaii, said the state now has the opportunity to invest in early childhood education, energy and other initiatives that are part of his “New Day” agenda.

“But we have the opportunity now, as a result of some of those hard choices that had to be made, some of those tough decisions that we had to take, some of the sacrifices that people had to make, to bring our state out of chaos — fiscal chaos and chaos in a sense of direction and confidence,” he said.

Abercrombie will campaign for another four-year term on the strength of the state’s improved financial outlook, made possible mostly from the rebound in tourism since the recession, but also from rosier forecasts in the construction and housing sectors.

The governor has yet to achieve the major policy objectives in his “New Day” plan, so his re-election theme — like his dream of a third city in Kakaako — will be about his potential to deliver given a stronger economy.

“We’re going to develop a third city here in Kakaako. We’re going to have workforce housing. We’re going to have early childhood education,” he told supporters. “We’re going to emphasize living in a community in a way that does not isolate people from one another. We’re going to have a respect for people as they end their years and they have made their contributions, putting them together with a sense of community and ohana that, I’m sorry to say, in some instances — especially in recent times — has been honored only rhetorically.”

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