HONOLULU (HawaiiNewsNow) - After the 27th State Legislature convenes Wednesday, expect the state budget to dominate discussion. Front and center will be finances and how to reconcile Gov. Neil Abercrombie's wish list with the state's bottom line.
"I think there are going to be issues of revenue, hotel room tax, GET increase, renewable energy tax credits," said Rep. Marcus Oshiro (D-Wahiawa, Whitmore Village, Launani Valley).
"I still maintain we have not turned the corner. We have not gotten better. Yes, the visitor industry is terrific. But construction, retailing, wholesaling, manufacturing, are still on the bench," said Sen. Sam Slom (R-Hawaii Kai, Aina Haina, Kahala).
A lot of ink will go to early education. For grades K through 12, Sen. Jill Tokuda feels the focus should be on student achievement.
"At the end of the day, how are we helping students to progress? Are students learning? And how are we putting students at the center of all of our decisions and our discussions?" she said.
In the wake of the Stevie Wonder concert fiasco and a committee's grilling of University of Hawaii officials over policies, Sen. Brian Taniguchi said expect UH to be under intense scrutiny.
"There's a lot of concern about high salaries, about overlapping of responsibilities, about how they handle money," he said.
Another area to keep an eye on is technology.
"We need to have that third leg of our economic stool to provide jobs for our youth that are high-paying and uses the brain instead of the muscle," said Sen. Glenn Wakai (D-Kalihi, Moanalua Gardens, Salt Lake).
Slom doesn't want diversions to get in the way of key issues.
"Marijuana, gambling, assisted suicide, all these things from the past to divert our attention from what really is important. And what really is important is the budget and the economy," he said.
Lawmakers have 60 days to sort it all out.