Local Connection: 2014 Legislature - Hawaii News Now - KGMB and KHNL

Local Connection: 2014 Legislature

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By: Rick Blangiardi

Opening day at the state legislature opened with much less of the fanfare than we've seen in recent years.

Gov. Abercrombie and legislators understand the need to be fiscally responsible, even as the state sits on an 800-million-dollar-plus budget surplus thanks to improving economic conditions.

The question at hand will be what are the priorities this year and for years to come with the state on better financial footing?

Chief among anything the governor and t he legislature tackle should be helping with Hawaii's high cost of living. That means an increase in the 7-dollar and 25-cent minimum wage to at least nine dollars an hour or more. The minimum wage has not been raised since 2007 and needs to be a priority.

Businesses could use a break as well and Gov. Abercrombie's announcement last month that the state would attempt to lower the unemployment insurance tax rate on businesses is welcome news.

This is a crucial year for Hawaii to ease the burden on its residents and businesses, to earn more and to be free of overly oppressive taxation. Let's hope this is priority number one this legislative session.

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