Governor defends budget to lawmakers - Hawaii News Now - KGMB and KHNL

Governor defends budget to lawmakers

Governor Neil Abercrombie (on right) Governor Neil Abercrombie (on right)
Rep. Barbara Marumoto Rep. Barbara Marumoto
Sen. Sam Slom Sen. Sam Slom
Lowell Kalapa Lowell Kalapa
Sen. Donna Mercado Kim Sen. Donna Mercado Kim

By Jim Mendoza - bio | email 

HONOLULU (HawaiiNewsNow) - "If anybody wants to try and manipulate the numbers for personal political agendas in order to try and score political points, let me tell you, this is one governor that's not going to put up with it," Gov. Neil Abercrombie warned lawmakers.

The confrontation at the Capitol was over his $22.7 billion budget.

Members of the House Finance and Senate Ways and Means committees grilled him over elements of his two-year spending plan he says will wipe out an $800 million deficit.

One representative called his proposal to tax pensions of some retirees "cruel."

"About $157 million out of $232 million is coming out of our seniors," Rep. Barbara Marumoto (R-Kaimuki, Waialae) said.

"If you want to put forward an argument, representative, and you want to characterize it as cruel, then the least you can do is accurately represent what it is that we're talking about," Abercrombie shot back. "We're not talking about someone whose sole income total is $37,500."

Abercrombie's budget draft increases spending by $400 million dollars over the next two years.  Some of that will go to government.

"What do you tell to the single mom and the families and the small businesses that have cut back, are cutting back now, and yet they're going to be asked to spend more in taxes and give back to the government so that the government can expand?" asked Sen. Sam Slom (R-Hawaii Kai, Aina Haina).

"And the answer is we're restoring government to that which is expected of people when they pay their taxes," Abercrombie said.

"They're getting feedback from their constituents as well that the great silent majority that the governor portends that he represents are not happy with some of his proposals," said Lowell Kalapa, president of the Tax Foundation of Hawaii.

One senator observed that Abercrombie is restoring government jobs that were cut to balance last year's budget.

"As we look at the overall economy, as you said, I don't know if this is the time to turn some positions into permanent and so forth," Sen. Donna Mercado Kim (D- Moanalua, Aiea) said.

"I can assure you that the motivation in this administration in putting these positions forward is to provide services to your constituents that they expect for the tax dollars that they have spent," Abercrombie said.

Afterwards Abercrombie said he thought the question and answer session was productive.

"That's the legislative process. There's dozens of legislators. Some of them think something is important and others think another is not as important. Whatever comes out at the end I'm agreeable to. That's a matter of negotiation," he said.

It's also a matter of scrutiny now that his budget is a matter of record.


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