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Tuesday, December 21, 2010
December 21, 2010 News Read
By Andrew Walden @ 3:05 PM :: 7163 Views :: Hawaii County News, Agriculture, Maui County News, Congressional Delegation, Honolulu County News, Democratic Party, Hawaii State Government, Republican Party, National News, Development

$772M short: Abercrombie submits two-year budget, blames Lingle, tells Legislature to fix it

Lame Duck Won’t Create Race-Based Government After All

Hawaii Congressional delegation: How they voted December 12-19

Michael Medved to speak at SBH Conference

TEA Party favorite Sheriff Richard Mack to speak in Honolulu

New Hawaii State laws effective January 1, 2011

After giving away millions, Abercrombie plans to ask for emergency funds to cover $71.6 million shortfall

Abercrombie offered no specifics about what cuts or tax hikes could be needed to make up the deficits.

He said he'd consider raiding both the hurricane relief and rainy day funds, which have a combined total of $163 million. On his first day in office, Abercrombie released $23.7 million from the state’s rainy day fund to help about 15 organizations serving Hawaii's needy including the homeless.

He sounded a familiar theme from his campaign. "First we're gonna reconfigure and retool and restructure our fractured government infrastructure," Abercrombie said. (Whatever that means.)

GIVEAWAY: Abercrombie’s first-day furlough fakery

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Angry Abercrombie: “Crisis is an opportunity”

Abercrombie promised the state would find a way out of the sinkhole and insisted — angrily, sometimes — that taxes would not be raised and jobs would not be cut to do so.

And he attempted to give it the old Abercrombie shot of optimism.

"Crisis is often an opportunity," he said, "and if anything this gives us an opportunity to do the things we want to do."

But not an opportunity to cut this: Hawaii DoE: Cost of waste, fraud, and corruption between $191M and $431M per year

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Say “its his responsibility to come up with balanced budget”, Abercrombie exasperated

Abercrombie appeared exasperated at times when questioned by reporters about exactly how he would reduce the deficit. He said he would be open to further tapping the hurricane relief fund and the state's rainy day fund.

Earlier this month, he released money from the two special funds to end teacher furloughs on classroom instruction days and to help social service programs. Lingle had withheld the money because of budget concerns.

The news conference was the first time since his election that he had to deliver some bad news.

"Take my word for it," he said of his ability to reconfigure government and promote job growth through state construction. "I got elected for a reason. I got elected because people wanted action. If they want action, they want Abercrombie. They got Abercrombie; they're going to get the action."

THE GOVERNOR met privately yesterday with state House and Senate leaders to discuss the budget.

House Speaker Calvin Say (D, St. Louis Heights-Palolo Valley-Wilhelmina Rise) called the governor's promise not to raise the general excise tax "a Christmas gift" to the people of Hawaii. He said, however, that lawmakers will likely consider lifting tax exemptions and tax credits to help balance the budget.

"It's his responsibility to come up with a balanced budget, and we will support him and help him in getting through and finding a way of getting through the budget shortfall," he said.

Senate President Shan Tsutsui (D, Kahului) said senators want to keep all options (ie the GE Tax) available.

"I think at this point, at least in the Senate, we want to keep all the options on the table," he said. "We understand the severity of the budget deficit, and we want to make sure that we don't close any doors now before we're able to deal with the budget deficit in its entirety."

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Expert testimony: Abercrombie complains about phoniness

The new governor sought to avoid blaming former Gov. Linda Lingle for the projected deficits. But he had to edit himself when asked whether he would delay state income tax refunds, like Lingle did this year.

I’m not going to delay tax refunds. All that does is extend the grief and pain and phoniness down the road.

OK. I take back the word “phoniness.” No, I do.

Because I said I’m not going to fix blame and all that, and that’s a pejorative term and I take it back. I shouldn’t have said it.

If there is anybody who knows phoniness, it is Neil Abercrombie….

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State Faces $844 Million Shortfall: New Gov. Offers No Specific Plan To Solve Deficit

"We have to work together. We're going to have to have a spirit of community, of Lokahi, of kokua for one another, such as we may have not had for some time," Abercrombie told reporters at a state capitol news conference Monday afternoon (instead of offering a plan).  Abercrombie offered no specifics about what cuts or tax hikes could be needed to make up the deficits.

He said he'd consider raiding both the hurricane relief and rainy day funds, which have a combined total of $163 million. On his first day in office, Abercrombie released $23.7 million from the state’s rainy day fund to help about 15 organizations serving Hawaii's needy including the homeless. (Which is part of the reason his current-year budget is $71M short.)

He sounded a familiar theme from his campaign.  "First we're gonna reconfigure and retool and restructure our fractured government infrastructure," Abercrombie said.

Abercrombie did rule out an increase in the excise tax, which is paid on most goods and services in the state. The governor said he does not plan to delay tax refunds, as Lingle did this year, saving a projected $275 million.

"I’m not exactly sure what the details are, so we're going to be reviewing the proposals over the next few weeks,“ said Shan Tsutsui, the state senate president. “Hopefully we'll get a better understanding as to what his exact plan is in terms of eliminating furloughs.”

House Speaker Calvin Say said other taxes and fees could go up while some tax credits and tax exemptions could end.  "I would say yes, everything would be on the table. And I've never been shy about saying it in the past,” Say said. “But in this particular case, the general excise tax, which is so regressive, is off the table. And it's a Christmas gift to all the general public at large here this year."

Abercrombie is proposing hundreds of millions of dollars worth of construction projects to stimulate the economy (because he thinks borrowing money will make us rich.).

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Abercrombie promises no GE Tax increase

HONOLULU (AP) — Hawaii Gov. Neil Abercrombie says he won't increase the state's sales taxes or again delay tax refunds, but he lacks specifics on how he will balance a $844 million shortfall over the next 2½ years.

He also will discontinue a delay of tax refunds into the following fiscal year as former Republican Gov. Linda Lingle did in an effort to save a projected $275 million.

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Akaka Bill fallout? Machado takes over from Apoliona at OHA

“In the past, board members often waged political battles to the detriment of the organization and its beneficiaries,” Higa said. “Within the last decade, the contentiousness that clouded the atmosphere within OHA’s boardroom has progressively cleared. … We found a much more stable and functional organization that is focused on its strategic mission.”

Apoliona began planning for a transition in the chair after former trustee Walter Heen made two unsuccessful attempts to depose her.

The change is expected to be mostly smooth, since Machado was a member of the majority group that Apoliona led. Oswald Stender, another ally, will continue as chairman of the committee that oversees OHA’s $380 million in assets.

During the Apoliona years, the trustees have focused more on policy-making, while leaving day-to-day operations to administrator Clyde Namuo and his team.

REALITY: OHA driving Hawaiians out of Hawaii, Molokai Ranch: Protesters to Cash in with Takeover Plan?, Molokai activists seek control of ranch

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Inouye retaliates against Filipino veterans

As an influential American Senator withdrew his support to a bill aimed at earning duty-free access for the Philippine garments made from US textiles in the United States, it has almost ruined the chances of passing the bill.
Sen. Daniel Inouye (D., Hawaii), Chairman of the finance committee, was apparently annoyed over a group of Filipino veterans who dragged the US government into a legal action by filing a class complaint against it and sought compensation.

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Slom: Close Hawaii’s Public Schools? Better to Close the Department of Education

On December 15, I attended and testified at a public meeting regarding possible East Honolulu school closures or consolidation held at Kaiser High School.

The cafeteria was jammed with nearly 500 people-parents, teachers, community residents and young students. They were all there to rally support for their beloved Hawaii Kai public schools: Koko Head Elementary and Kamiloiki Elementary. No one spoke up for closure. Only one DOE executive, Randy Moore, was present to hear the testimony.

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Kalapa: Jigsaw Puzzle Fix Needed To Repair Hawaii's Economic Future

In another area, the board of education has attempted to deal with their budget shortfall by recognizing shrinking populations at various schools by recommending consolidation when there is more than one school in a geographic area with declining enrollment so that the fixed costs of opening a school’s doors can be reduced. Unfortunately, passion over takes common sense as students and families protest the closing, citing the benefits of smaller classroom size or sentimental attachment to a certain school….

Here’s what the DoE isn’t cutting: Hawaii DoE: Cost of waste, fraud, and corruption between $191M and $431M per year

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Molina, Parsons to join Arakawa Admin

WAILUKU - After 10 years in the Makawao-Haiku-Paia residency seat, outgoing Council Member Mike Molina said he won't be out of public service for very long.

"I've been asked and I will be joining (Mayor-elect) Alan (Arakawa) as an executive assistant," Molina said. "I'll be overseeing boards and commissions and most likely act as a liaison to the council.

MN: Parsons again named to environmental position

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EIS notice issued for proposed Kona waste-to-energy plant

The state Department of Business, Economic Development and Tourism issued an environmental impact statement preparation notice for a proposed waste-to-energy plant at the Natural Energy Laboratory of Hawaii Authority.

The department issued the notice in the latest Office of Environmental Quality Control publication, released this week. BioEnergy Hawaii LLC proposed the plant, which would convert up to 300 tons of solid waste to pellets that decompose into gases that would be used to drive steam through generators, in 2008. The proposal would use 7.5 acres for waste processing gasification and electrical generators; another 17 acres at the energy lab site mauka of the southern end of Kona International Airport,would be used to cultivate algae, fed by sunlight and carbon dioxide and other emissions from the generation equipment.

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Obamas go shopping, lights blown out, kids start crying

A metaphor for everything Obama…

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Mistakenly Believing Immunity Applied, Ex-Diplomat’s Son Stole $300K From Law Firm

Nigel Salmingo, 31, pleaded guilty in state court in Hawaii last week to 37 counts of theft, forgery and money laundering concerning the money he took from Winer Meheula & Devens between 2007 and 2009. The son of a former Philippines consulate general to Hawaii in the 1990s, he will be deported when he has served his sentence because he is not a citizen.

Salmingo reportedly used the money to fund a lavish lifestyle. He escaped detection for 18 months as he had the law firm's bank and credit statements sent to his home and made false entries in its books to conceal his crimes, the article says.

Best comment: “Ironically Meheula and Winer are key proponents of the failed Akaka Bill S1011 which would have created a Hawaiian Indian tribe with instant Tribal jurisdiction and sovereign immunity for tribal officials.  If only the poor misbegotten Mr Salmingo had been patient, he really could have had immunity.  Winer, who got his start manipulating and timing the demise of Rep Patsy Mink,  is now an Obama administration official last seen wandering around Louisiana telling people that the oil spill was going to be taken care of…. “

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After failed IPO, Hawaii Windfarm developer hopes for “some kind of private financing”

the final offer came in slightly below the reduced price range. Worse, First Wind could not sell as much stock as planned. It would come up short, and might be forced to sell more stock relatively soon to keep funding expansion plans through the next two years.

“The phrase I used was ‘the bridge to nowhere,’ ’’ said Gaynor. “We were going to raise two-thirds of the capital we needed, and if we wanted to build out the rest of the our plan, we would have to have gone back to the market. If conditions weren’t right, that would have been very expensive.’’

First Wind plans to stay on schedule, building more farms selling power into expensive markets with big green mandates: California, the northeast United States, and Hawaii. The company has $100 million in cash, and Gaynor expects to make some kind of private financing deal.

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