Wednesday, January 16, 2013

Legislative Priorities: Selected Quotes from Today's Opening Day Speeches

Today was the opening day of the State of Hawaii, Twenty-Seventh Legislature 2013-2014.

There are probably better ways to gauge the priorities of a legislative body, but below is a bullet-point list of quotes from the new Senate President and Speaker of the House.

If I could summarize their speeches in a few words, the Senate President is focusing on fiscal constraint and small government and House Speaker is focusing on rebuilding government and public sector projects.  Both leaders support less Oahu-centric decision making and similar social programs.

The following text was pulled word-for-word from their entire speeches posted at the respective URLs below.  If text was added, it's in brackets.

Senate President Donna Mercado Kim (

  • The last recession may have weakened our foundation, so now is the time for reassessment and reinforcement
  • After several years of belt-tightening, we’re greeting this session with a rosier economic outlook
  • Tourism deserves a special mention
  • establishment of a museum/center of Hawaiian music and dance
  • We should proceed with caution
  • possible cutbacks in federal funding
  • backlog of repair and maintenance needs for schools, parks, public housing, state buildings, and our infrastructure
  • state-run early education program, a new prison, and more affordable housing, as well as proposals for more grants-in-aid and other public support
  • NO new tax burdens thrust upon our citizens
  • Reevaluating and reassessing what we have in place . . . to achieve our purposes more efficiently and effectively than we have been
  • eliminate salary overpayments to state workers and abuses in overtime and sick leave
  • accelerate fixing our schools, funding kupuna care, reducing the unfunded liability of the state pension system, and repairing our roads and aging infrastructure
  • we mustn’t create or reinstitute public programs without a thorough examination of their long-term obligations
  • do better in acting on the Auditor’s recommendations
  • [address issues with the] HI-5 recycling program, the Public Land Development Corporation, airport procurement contracts, Charter Schools, certain tax credits
  • those appointed as stewards of the public’s trust are responsible for the performance of the organizations they oversee and therefore must be held accountable
  • food security, farmers need our assistance and commitment to preserve prime agricultural lands
  • I am an advocate for county home-rule . . . making government less Oahu-centric

House Speaker Joseph Souki (

  • rebuild what the recession took away
  • Investment in projects and programs throughout the state
  • strengthen economic development and job growth, to restore public services
  • restore the safety net, put people back to work, and provide the best education, including early childhood education
  • take care of people's health, take care of our kupuna, and make sure the state's health care system transitions into the new era of health care smoothly and without undue delay
  • improve our roads, bridges, and transportation infrastructure
  • clean energy that uses the best renewable energy resources, including our ocean and solar resources
  • responsible stewards of Hawaii's natural resources and our native plants and animals
  • increase farming opportunities on agricultural land and the market for locally-grown products
  • support the tourism industry and promote the Hawaii product to the world
  • enhance our revenue stream—a mix of strategies that will generate more state revenues
  • rethink tax credits—film industry claims a tax credit
  • look at rolling back the personal tax burden for people with lower incomes and the middle class

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