The 27th Hawaii State Legislature ended Thursday, May 7, with members from the House and the Senate joining in the singing of Hawaii Aloha. Before gaveling the session closed, House Speaker Joseph M. Souki acknowledged the work of everyone involved in the legislative process and summarized the session’s accomplishments. He said the approach this session was to focus on the State’s long term needs such as reducing long term fiscal liabilities, replenishing reserve funds, promoting economic development, education, sustainability and improving the quality of life for all residents. The full text of his closing remarks are below:
BY HAWAII HOUSE SPEAKER JOE SOUKI – We have come to the end of the 2013 Regular Session. To the Leadership Team, the Chairs, Vice Chairs, and each and every member of the House, because of your unwavering commitment to do your best for the people of Hawaii, this was a productive session.
Thank you all, for working together and for doing a wonderful job.
I would like to especially thank the Majority Leader Scott Saiki and Finance Chair Sylvia Luke for your tremendouscontributions and tireless efforts in moving us forward to this day.
To our Minority Leader Aaron Johanson and the Minority Caucus, thank you for bringing your ideas and perspective to the table to help us craft legislation for all of Hawaii’s people. Thank you.
We began this session cautiously optimistic. Our economy was on the rise, tourism was strong, and unemployment was down. We needed to invest in programs and projects, and make strong investments in Hawaii’s future.
We committed to the strengthening of our number one industry by making significant investment in the future of tourism.
We made permanent the current TAT rate and increased funding to aggressively market our visitor industry as we compete with other travel destinations.
We also kept the current level of support to the counties giving them fiscal continuity.
We passed a tax credit measure aimed at encouraging the presence of the film industry which returns a significant amount of revenue to the state.
Funding for capital improvement projects for state infrastructure will jumpstart economic growth on all islands.
To invest in our Keiki, we are funding the expansion of the Open Doors Program to provide day care opportunities for preschool aged children.
And to help provide funds for repair, maintenance, and additional classrooms and school facilities for our growing population, we have passed the 21st Century Schools bill to look at responsible partnerships to generate much needed revenue for our public schools. But this will all be done with community and county input, and compliance with state and county requirements.
Now, on the question of early education – preschool – the public will have the chance to voice their opinion through a Constitutional Amendment on whether public funds should be used by private early childhood education programs.
Quality of Life:
In this session, we have also reaffirmed our commitment to our kupuna, the homeless, a sustainable and clean environment, and the local farming and feed industry. We are taking care of needs today, and investing in our future.
During the past economic crisis, we had to borrow from the state’s Rainy Day Fund and the Hurricane Relief Fund. We made a promise that when the economy improved we would return that money.
Well, not only are we keeping that promise, we are providing additional money to recapitalize those funds. And we have taken a big step in addressing the unfunded liability of our public workers.
And finally, we listened to the resounding voice of the people and moved quickly to repeal the Public Land andDevelopment Corporation – PLDC.
Speaker Emeritus Say, I thank you for your years of leadership, fiscal restraint, and know how. You and your Finance Chair Marcus Oshiro laid the foundation for much of what was achieved this year.
I would like to thank Senate President Donna Kim, her leadership team, the Senate Chairs and members who worked with us and collaborated as we worked to craft legislation for the people of Hawaii.
To the permanent and session staff of the House, thank you for professionalism and tireless efforts in supporting the work of the House.
I am deeply grateful to all of you. It is an honor to serve as your Speaker, and I look forward to working together next session to serve the people of this State.
Thank you and God bless.