Governor Talks HSTA, Economy In State Address

Published On: Jan 23 2012 07:49:20 AM HST
Updated On: Jan 23 2012 06:06:35 AM HST
HONOLULU -

Governor Neil Abercrombie reiterated his request for the Hawaii State Teachers Association to provide a new proposal for a contract in his 2012 State Of The State Address Monday.

"After good faith negotiations achieving two agreements, the teachers still have not ratified a contract," said Gov. Abercrombie. "I will continue to press for a resolution."

Gov. Abercrombie said the state will be using all management, administrative, legislative and legal tools to implement an evaluation system that not only measure, but achieves student growth.

The governor is also setting goals to turn around low-performing schools and supporting tecachers in increasing their effectiveness.

Gov. Abercrombie also talked about the state of the Hawaii economy. He says since last year recovery has been steady.

The governor pointed to the following economic figures:

  • The visitor industry saw a 3.4 percent growth in arrivals and visitor expenditures went up by $5 billion dollars in 2011.
  • General excise tax revenue increased by an average of 8 percent compared to the previous year.
  • Hawaii's unemployment rate remains one of the lowest in the nation at 6.5 percent.
  • Payroll employment increased 1.3 percent after three years of decline.
  • Initial unemployment claims declined 8 percent in 2011.
  • Bankruptcies dropped 15.9 percent.

In 2012, Gov. Abercrombie wants to step up the state's construction industry.

"All the signs show that private investment and construction appears hesitant and tentative," said Abercrombie. "Therefore, it is the public sector that must step up to invest in repairs and maintenance, construction projects and infrastructure improvements. By aggressively putting these projects into action, we will ensure that job creation continues."

The governor is looking at providing affordable housing opportunities. One example is the proposed Pohukaina project that is designed around the consolidation of mixed-use and mixed-income.

Gov. Abercrombie went on to speak about building an infrastructure for technology in the 21st century.

He said the state will be moving forward with the Hawaii Broadband Initiative by requesting $2.9 million to enhance online services for eHawaii.gov, advance research for transpacific fiber landing stations statewide and initiate a "one-to-one" laptop program for Hawaii's public schools, to provide laptops for every student.

Oversight of telecommunications will be moved to the Department of Commerce and Consumer Affairs. The governor said telecom will now be regulated by one agency, rather than having multiple functions spread out over multiple departments.

State technology will also be consolidated under the Office of Information Management and Technology, led by Hawaii's first Chief Information Officer. The governor is requesting $10 million from the legislature for the new department and position.

  • Proposing to invest $5 million in protecting Hawaii's watersheds.
  • Changing the TV and Film Tax Credit to make it permanent.
  • Building stronger quality early childhood education and health care.
  • Creating one-stop shops for information on aging.
  • An emergency grant of $1.8 million to the National Kidney Foundation of Hawaii in the wake of the closing of Hawaii Medical Center.
  • Proposed settlement with the Office Of Hawaiian Affairs which would transfer 25 acres to OHA in return for settling $200 million in claims against the state.
  • Tackling homelessness in Hawaii.
  • Proposal improving the criminal justice system.
  • Hawaii's clean energy future.

House Republicans responded with this statement:

"We heard many priorities today from Governor Abercrombie that we in the Republican caucus have shared and supported for years. Fiscal prudence, tourism, infrastructure and high-tech industry are truly important factors in improving our economy and creating jobs in Hawaii."

"The fiscal situation this year has improved from last year, but less bad is not a surplus. Today's address highlighted short-term revenue raising solutions and some long range spending plans, but Abercrombie did not bring forth sustainable measures to put Hawaii on a better economic track. Without including the next set of projections from the Council on Revenues, Abercrombie's plan still leads us into a deficit next year, and he made few comments to indicate that he would focus on economic growth and small businesses development."

"Abercrombie identified some of our state's major concerns like reducing our dependence on oil, improving education and encouraging healthy lifestyles, but we need to be sure our solutions are responsible and sustainable. Right now, Abercrombie's plan puts our State in a continual deficit for the next 5 years; we need to be sure we are thinking more long-term."

"Abercrombie's call for unity and the absence of tax increases are a good beginning. However, we hope that as the session moves on the governor and the legislature can develop and promote solutions that will fix our problems today and decrease the cost-of-living for our constituents in the long run."

KITV4 news will have complete coverage on the State Of The State Address at 5, 6 and 10 p.m.

Gov. Abercrombie will also appear on KITV4 News This Morning on Tuesday morning. You can send in your questions for him at news@kitv.com.

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