Archive for the ‘Uncategorized’ Category

Revise

April 17th, 2014
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State Sen. David Ige's campaign on Thursday asked the Democratic Party of Hawaii to revise its schedule for the state convention in May so that candidates can address delegates from the podium.

Ige, who is challenging Gov. Neil Abercrombie in the primary, said Wednesday he was disappointed that he would not be able to address the convention at the Sheraton Waikiki yet Abercrombie would be allowed to speak. The party plans to allow eight elected officials -- including Abercrombie -- five minutes each to give reports on progress toward the party's platform. Candidates can speak at a separate meet-and-greet function at the Royal Hawaiian.

"Today, my campaign submitted a letter requesting that the state central executive committee of Hawaii revise its agenda to provide all candidates to major statewide offices the opportunity to address the convention from the podium. Let the people speak,” Ige said in a statement.

“A governor should welcome the opportunity to share the podium with all major office candidates, showing the party and Democrats across the state that we welcome all voices and views.”

The letter asks the party to stage a two-hour candidate forum on the main floor of the convention on Saturday or Sunday where the candidates for major statewide races could address delegates.

The party's executive committee is expected to meet early next week to discuss the proposal.

HB 1700 -- Day 2

April 17th, 2014
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State House and Senate negotiators on Thursday worked through dozens of items in the state budget but did not announce any major spending decisions.

Sen. David Ige, the lead Senate negotiator, joked that the conference committee would reconvene at 7 a.m. on Sunday -- Easter. "You guys are actually paying attention," he said after lawmakers and some in the audience laughed.

While key negotiators and staff will work in private over the next few days, the next public meeting is at 3 p.m. on Monday.

First two

April 16th, 2014
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Former Lt. Gov.  James "Duke" Aiona has started fundraising for his Republican campaign for governor.

Aiona held a $50 per person fundraiser in Kapolei on April 5 and has a $55 per person event scheduled for Waialae Country Club on Wednesday night.

Aiona, who lost to Gov. Neil Abercrombie in 2010, had not been aggressively raising money when he informally rolled out his campaign earlier this year.

HB 1700 -- Day 1

April 15th, 2014
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State Rep. Sylvia Luke and Sen. David Ige opened conference committee negotiations on the state budget Tuesday afternoon with a reminder that it was their cautious approach to state spending last year that positioned the state to handle a downgraded revenue forecast.

Luke, the chairwoman of the House Finance Committee, said it was unfortunate that expectations were raised by the state's record $844 million budget surplus at the end of the last fiscal year.

While Gov. Neil Abercrombie has touted the record surplus in his re-election campaign, the governor, Luke and Ige have been consistent in explaining that the surplus did not mean the state would go on a spending spree.

Luke and Ige have pledged not to go back on the state's promises to address unfunded liabilities in the public worker health care and retirement funds and replenish the state's rainy day and hurricane relief funds.

"Let us be clear: without significant adjustments in the budget, we are in deficit spending," said Ige, the chairman of the Senate Ways and Means Committee who is challenging Abercrombie in the Democratic primary. "That means we are spending more than we are collecting in revenues over the next five years. This is a trend that is unsustainable and is the challenge for our conference committee on the budget."

Even before the Council on Revenues downgraded the state's revenue forecast in January and March, the state's two-year budget presumed that the state would spend more than it took in through tax collections, a concern masked by the surplus.

Since this is a supplemental budget year, most of the focus is on the roughly $12 billion in state spending for fiscal year 2015, the second year of the biennium. But Abercrombie had proposed some reductions for this fiscal year -- fiscal year 2014 -- so there has been some discussions on adjustments this year.

On Tuesday, Luke and Ige announced that negotiators had reached agreement on several important items:

*$1.5 million for Housing First, a homeless assistance program.

*$1.2 million for early intervention services in the state Department of Health.

*$1 million and 50 positions for enrollment support at the University of Hawaii-West Oahu.

*$9 million for increased utility costs at the state Department of Education.

House and Senate negotiators will meet again in Room 309 of the state Capitol at 3:30 p.m. on Thursday.

Ige joked that he has been known as "Doctor Doom" over the past few weeks, so he said he hoped the imperial yellow polo shirts that senators and committee staff were wearing as a sign of unity would "brighten up the proceedings this afternoon."

Until House and Senate conferees close the budget, other bills that have financial components are on hold. Lawmakers have until midnight on April 25 to finish work on bills so that final votes can be taken before the session adjourns on May 1.

Stacked

April 15th, 2014
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The state Senate has named conferees on the minimum wage bill, and some have noted wryly that the committee is stacked with senators who wanted to accept the House version of the bill and avoid conference negotiations.

Sen. Clayton Hee, the chairman of the conference committee, wanted to take the bill to conference, as did Sen. Maile Shimabukuro.

But Sen. David Ige, the co-chair, and Senate Vice President Ronald Kouchi and Sen. Les Ihara, Jr., preferred to accept the House version.