Hawaii politicians responded to President Barack Obama's 2014 State of the Union Address Tuesday evening.
Sen. Mazie Hirono said, "I applaud President Obama for laying out a clear, concrete strategy to grow our economy so that everyone has a chance at the American Dream. Proposals to raise the minimum wage, increase workforce development and job training, expand early childhood education and make college more affordable are ways that we can close the opportunity gap and help strengthen the middle class and those striving to get into the middle class."
"Tonight, we heard a real commitment from President Obama to reversing income inequality," said Sen. Brian Schatz. "Helping those who are stretched thin is even more important in Hawai'i, where so many of our families struggle with the high cost of living. People who work hard and play by the rules should be able to get ahead."
"I welcome the President’s call to action and I agree that Americans want to see progress," said Rep. Colleen Hanabusa. "We can no longer ignore the simple fact that while the economy is recovering, only a small segment of our citizens have seen gains from that growth. We have to do more to ensure that our middle class and those in need also benefit from our successful efforts to get our nation back on track. I think that should start, right now, with extending long term unemployment benefits and raising the minimum wage."
"Tonight, the President took a positive step toward addressing the vast and growing trend of inequality, and I welcome his proposals that will support job creation and encourage opportunities for growth and entrepreneurship," said Rep. Tulsi Gabbard. "While the President highlighted opportunities to grow our economy and support middle-class families, I was disappointed that he did not address the serious overreach of the National Security Agency and its violations of innocent Americans' privacy and civil liberties. This issue is one of the greater challenges this generation will face."
"“It’s encouraging that President Obama's national priorities echo those I've outlined as top initiatives for the State of Hawaii," said Gov. Neil Abercrombie. "The President's emphasis on early childhood education are in line with Hawaii's plans to expand access to pre-kindergarten for all four year olds. We are investing in new partnerships to provide our keiki with the educational opportunities they deserve. As I stated in last week's State of the State address, a hard-working sector in Hawaii has gone seven years without seeing their wages rise. I applaud the President's proposal to increase the minimum wage for all federal employees."