LT. Governor Shan Tsustui and House Speaker Calvin Say (file Photo)
Senate President Shan Tsustui and House Speaker Calvin Say

No New Taxes, Legislative Leaders Promise

House Speaker Calvin Say and Senate President Shan Tsutsui said yesterday they are opposed to tax increases even though the State Council on Revenue lowered its state revenue projects by $130 million.

There may be fees and smaller tax hikes pushed through, but the House speaker maintained in his opening day speech he is opposed to the idea of a major tax hike.

Gov. Neil Abercrombie, who favors additional taxes on sugary drinks and sweet products such as ice cream with revenues being directed to public health and educational programs for overweight children, acknowledged yesterday he probably would not be able to get such a plan through the legislature this year.

While the governor is not philosophically opposed to tax increases, he said tax hikes are not needed this year as they were last year to balance the state budget.

House and Senate Republicans also pledged to oppose any tax increases.

Laptop Proposal Floated, but Details Not Worked Out Yet

During the state of the state address yesterday, Gov. Neil Abercrombie announced his plan to give every public school student – or about 180,000 students – a laptop.

But when pressed, neither the governor nor his staff could offer details, even including at what age children would receive the pricey electronic advice or who would pay for it.

Punahou School gives every child a laptop from fourth grade on up and the cost is built into tuition.

Parents are financially responsible if the laptop if it is lost. There is a computer repair center where students are sent if their laptop breaks. And there is a sophisticated electronic network that allows children to complete and turn in their assignments and communicate with their teacher.

In the public school system, it would likely be the taxpayers who fund the initial purchase unless donations and grants can be obtained, and taxpayers would be responsible for such an expensive investment should it break.

But the governor maintains the laptops – or possibly electronic tablets – are needed so students are prepared for the future.

Governor Focuses State of the State Address on Government Solutions, Business Left Out of Equation, Minority said

Sen. Sam Slom gave the Senate Republican response to Gov. Abercrombie’s state of the state address yesterday, saying the governor was passionate and enthusiastic but his focus was exclusively on government solutions.

Slom, who also runs a business advocacy group, Smart Business Hawaii, said in his hour long speech the governor never mentioned the word “business”, and he did not addressed the struggling business climate or the plight of small business people in Hawaii, which includes overcoming among the highest taxes and cost of living, strictest regulations and most burdensome mandates.

Slom and House Republican Minority Leader Gene Ward also noted the governor has plans for more spending in the form of bonds for construction, but he did not address the need to bring the state out of debt, which includes billions of dollars in unfunded liabilities

By the way, what did Slom and Abercrombie say to one another as Slom accompanied him to the podium?

Slom, known for his sense of humor, said to his long time adversary of 50 years: “Over the limit, under arrest.”

In prior years, Slom brought handcuffs with him when accompanying Gov. Ben Cayetano to the podium.  Abercrombie, who took Slom’s joke well, thanked Slom for being a friend to him for so many decades.

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