Chair of the Senate Committee on Ways and Means Senator David Ige Makes Final Speech at the Close of Session Today

State Sen. David Ige (D-Pearl Harbor-Pearl City-Aiea) today gave a final speech as Senator on the Senate floor at the close of the legislative session today. This marks a milestone in an effective career in leadership positions dedicated to serving the people of Hawaii. Sen. Ige has spent nearly three decades in public office, starting in the state House of Representatives for eight years before his 21 year tenure in the state Senate.

“I am thankful to the many colleagues I have had the privilege to serve with to make our home a better place for our children and future generations.   Over the years, I am proud to say that together we were able to increase public access to the legislative process, reform our education and auto insurance system, and pass key pieces of legislation that has helped to move Hawaii forward, while respecting the unique qualities that make our state so special,” said Ige.  “I am humbled and thankful to the people of the Aiea and Pearl City for allowing me the honor of serving our community for nearly three decades.”

Sen. Ige has been the chair of the highest ranking Senate Committee on Ways and Means for the past three years and has helped to shape and balance the state’s budget through tough economic times.

Ige’s colleague on the House side, House Finance Chair Representative Sylvia Luke, said, “David has been a brilliant budget negotiator dedicated to keeping our budget in balance without implementing new tax programs the past three years.”

He has led a total of nine House and Senate committees, including Higher Education, Education and Technology, Health, Hawaiian Affairs, Economic Development, Commerce, and Consumer Protection and Information Technology.

“David’s intelligence and fact-based, comprehensive decision-making approach has allowed him to effectively lead many of the most powerful committees at the Legislature,” said Senate President Donna Mercado Kim. “He is well-respected among his colleagues and highly-regarded by the community as a devoted public servant.”

This year named one of the 13 “tech-savviest” state legislators in the nation, Sen. Ige has spearheaded technology-based projects such as the Hawaii Telecommunications and Information Industries Act, a “paperless” Senate, and tax credits for knowledge-based tech companies. He also received the State Technology Innovator Award from the National Association of State Chief Information Officers in 2010.

Sen. Ige has pioneered initiatives over the years that have garnered him many accolades, including:

  • 2013 – Hawaii Public Charter School honor for “being a catalyst for change and passing the charter school law in Hawaii”
  • 2011 – Outstanding Legislator of the Year, AARP
  • 2010 – Outstanding Elected Leader, Coalition for a Tobacco-Free Hawaii 2010 State Technology Innovator Award, National Association of State Chief Information Officers
  • 2000 – Outstanding Civic Leadership, Hawaii Technology Trade Association
  • 1998 – Friend of the Family Award, Hawaii Association for Marriage and Family Therapy
  • 1994 – GTE President’s Leadership Award, Team Leadership – Bronze 1994 Mahalo Award, The Friends of the Library of Hawaii
  • 1990 – High Technology Development Corporation Achievement Award, High Technology Development Corporation – State of Hawaii
  • 1989 – 20/20 Business Development Award, Chamber of Commerce of Hawaii

Sen. Ige was raised in Pearl City where he attended Pearl City Elementary, Highlands Intermediate and Pearl City High School. He attended the University of Hawaii at Manoa where he earned a Bachelor of Science in Electrical Engineering and a Master of Business Administration in Decision Sciences.  He and his wife Dawn, a public school vice principal, have three children currently in college.


Senator David Ige with his family

With a successful career as an electrical engineer executive for 34 years, Sen. Ige has continued to be devoted to information technology, telecommunications, networks and responsible public policy. He currently works with Robert A. Ige and Associates, Inc.

Ige concluded, “During my 29 years serving the public at the Legislature, I’ve gained a comprehensive understanding of state government and will continue to use this expertise to the benefit of all Hawaii.”

# # #

Senate Honors Senator David Ige on His Final Day as a State Senator

Lawmakers bid farewell to Ways and Means Chair on Sine Die


The Hawaii State Senate honored one of its longest continuously serving members of its body for having devoted more than half his life to representing residents of Pearl City and Aiea.

Lawmakers presented Sen. David Ige, who has chosen not to seek re-election to his Senate seat, with a certificate of appreciation commending his service to the state of Hawaii.

“The legislature has been fortunate to have a visionary leader such as Senator Ige,” said Senate President Donna Mercado Kim. “He has brought two decades of skilled experience and insight that has allowed us to fulfill our goals at its highest potential.”

“It’s been an honor to work side-by-side with Sen. Ige,” said Sen. Michelle Kidani, vice chair of the Ways and Means Committee. “He’s a devoted public servant, and Hawaii is better today because of his leadership. We wish him and his family all the best.”

Sen. Kidani offered up the certificate on behalf of the Hawaii State Senate:

“The Senate is pleased to recognize Hawaii residents for their service in the public interest and exceptional leadership over a sustained period of years.  In this spirit, the Senate commends a member of this body – Senator David Y. Ige – for having devoted more than half his life to representing residents of Pearl City and Aiea as a member of the State Legislature.

David Ige was appointed by Governor George Ariyoshi to a vacant seat in the House of Representatives in December, 1985, at the age of 28.  He took his seat in the session of the Thirteenth Legislature that convened on his 29th birthday, January 15, 1986.

David and his colleagues, Les Ihara, Jr., and Brian Taniguchi, were elected to the Senate in 1994, and today the three of them are the longest continuously serving members of this body.  For that kind of endurance alone, they warrant commendation.

David’s 20-year tenure in the Senate has been marked by thoughtful, intelligent, insightful and forward-thinking policy proposals that have always sought to build solid foundations for a better Hawaii.  His well-recognized ability to understand the big picture implications of decisions for which we are responsible as elected officials has contributed to his effectiveness as a leader among us.  We are so fortunate to have benefitted from his wisdom and counsel. 

Now, David has chosen not to seek re-election to his Senate seat.  He will leave behind a distinguished record of accomplishments and accolades too numerous to recite.  However, we do acknowledge his key role in supporting public education through increased funding, allowing more autonomy and fiscal flexibility, and authoring the first laws creating charter schools. 

We note his authorship of the Hawaii Telecommunications and Information Industries Act.  We are grateful for his focus on transforming the Legislature to make government more accessible that has made this body a national leader in electronic accessibility.  In 2010, to recognize his leadership on the Senate’s paperless initiative, David was awarded the National Association of State Chief Information Officers State Technology Innovator Award. 

In more recent years, we cannot help but stand in awe of his grasp of the State budget and the process by which it is formulated under his leadership as Chair of the Committee on Ways and Means.

Like most of his colleagues, David works in the private sector.  He is a successful electrical engineer and project manager with a 34-year career devoted to information technology, telecommunications, networks and responsible public communication policy.  He served with distinction for more than 18 years as an engineer at GTE Hawaiian Tel.

Literally closer to home, the Senator is a devoted husband to his wife Dawn and a loving father to their three children, Lauren, Amy and Matthew.  They have provided unquestioned, loyal support and encouragement to David as he has pursued his professional and public service careers.

The Senate of the Twenty-seventh Hawaii State Legislature, Regular Session of 2014, commends Senator David Y. Ige for his tireless commitment to improving the lives of all Hawaii residents.  With sincere gratitude, the Senate further extends warmest Aloha and best wishes to our departing colleague, with the wish for good health and much success in life beyond legislating.”

###

 

Counties to Receive a Larger Share of the Hotel Tax

Bill to increasing the Transient Accommodations Tax revenues distributed to the counties passes out of the Legislature and will be enrolled to the Governor


The Hawaii State Legislature passed out on final reading a bill that will increase the counties’ share of the transient accommodation tax (TAT). The measure will now go to the governor for further consider. The governor can sign, veto or let the bill become law without his signature.

The Legislature believes that increasing the maximum amount of TAT revenues to the counties will allow them to better provide for public safety, parks, road maintenance and visitor-related services

House Bill 1671 will give the counties a combined $103 million per year for the next two years of the TAT revenues. The counties currently get a combined $93 million. In 2010, during the economic downfall and facing a budget deficit, the state placed a cap on the counties’ share of the TAT.

Despite a perceived $844 million surplus, the Council on Revenues mid-session lowered tax revenue growth from 3.3 percent to zero percent in 2014 and from 7.4 percent to 5.5 percent in 2015, amounting to more than half a million dollars less than expected. This session, the Legislature increased TAT revenues for two years, but found it prudent to require a study to determine the appropriate division of duties and responsibilities to provide public services before establishing a firm TAT distribution amounts.

“These funds will provide extra support and funds for all counties in our state,” said Senator Gilbert Kahele (District 1 – Hilo), chair of the Senate Committee on Tourism. “

With more than a million visitors each year, tourism plays a key role in how we care for our infrastructure. County services, facilities and infrastructure directly affect the visitor experience,and the funds for the counties will be used to ensure that our tourism industry is maintained and remains high quality.”


Sen. Kahele at conference committee meetings on the state budget.

“Tourism remains one of our state’s top industries and TAT revenue helps to fund activities to keep our state’s economy strong,” said Senator Ige (District 16 – Pearl City, Momilani, Pearlridge, ‘Aiea, Royal Summit, ‘Aiea Heights, Newtown, Waimalu, Halawa, Pearl Harbor), chair of the Ways and Means Committee. “Although revenue projections were lower than expected, an increase in the cap on TAT revenues shared with the counties will allow them to improve services that support the state’s economy overall. Obviously we would have wanted to do more for the counties, but given our financial constraints, we had to balance the needs and concerns of all aspects of our communities.”


Sen. Ige on the Senate floor speaking in support of the the state budget.

The transient accommodations tax is a tax that applies to certain rental activity in Hawaii. The tax is levied on gross income and is imposed only on gross rental income when renting in transient accommodations. A transient accommodation applies to a hotel room or suite, apartment, condominium, house, beach house, or similar living accommodation which is rented for less than 180-consecutive days by and regularly furnished to a transient (a person has a permanent place to live elsewhere.)

###

Lawmakers Agree on Fiscally Responsible State Budget Bill

HB1700 emphasizes the Legislature’s commitment to education and Hawaii’s people


Key Senate and House conferees today concluded negotiations on the state budget bill, agreeing upon and passing a fiscally responsible $12.1 billion budget for fiscal year 2014-15. HB1700 includes funding for core services such as education, health, the University of Hawaii, human services, the environment, public safety, and supporting and caring for the lives of Hawaii’s people. The bill now goes to the full Senate and House for a final floor vote.

At the start of the 2014 legislative session, the Senate Ways and Means committee continued to remain cautious about spending given signs of slower economic growth, which would mean hundreds of millions of dollars less than expected over the next two years.

Midway through the session, on March 11, the Council on Revenues reduced its projected general fund tax revenue growth, from 3.3 percent to zero percent in FY2013-2014 and 7.4 percent to 5.5 percent in FY2014-2015. Combining this with the Department of Budget and Finance’s estimated reduction of general fund non-tax revenue growth, it’s projected that there will be a cumulative total of $491.8 million less in general funds over the current fiscal biennium.

Through prudent money management, and in order to reflect the weak economic forecast, lawmakers reduced Gov. Neil Abercrombie’s executive budget request by $173 million in general funds over fiscal biennium 2013-15. The governor’s $200 million budget request for FY2015 was significantly cut down to $65.7 million.

Funding for capital improvement projects amounted to just over $5 billion, of which $2.3 billion is funded in general obligation (GO) or reimbursable bonds. This number includes the lapse and reauthorization of $339 million in GO Bonds for the State Educational Facilities Improvement (SEFI) Fund. The budget includes $40 million for grant-in-aid (GIA).

“Although we are in better, yet cautious, economic times than past sessions, this year we were faced with many challenges, including lower revenue projections announced midsession,” said Ige. “My colleagues in the Senate and I worked diligently with our counterparts in the House to take this into consideration and balance the state budget through a financially responsible approach.”

“This is a budget that we can be proud of because we were able to balance the interest of the community with the availability of funds,” he added. “HB1700 emphasizes the Senate’s commitment to public school education, the Department of Education and the University of Hawaii. The biggest winners this session are our keiki. We invested money in the weighted student formula, athletics, the Strive-HI program and UH collective bargaining agreements, among others.”

“One might have thought that assembling the construction budget in better economic times would be easier than in the immediate past, but this has not been the case,” said Sen. Michelle Kidani, vice chair of the WAM Committee. “Despite challenges, we crafted the CIP budget prioritizing two essential goals: continue the progress begun over the last few years in renovating, repairing and maintaining existing state-owned facilities to utilize our current resources and reduce general fund expenditures in the future, and designate funds for projects needed to address future capacity needs and economic growth.”

“We funded major projects for the DOE and UH system, the Department of Health, the Department of Land and Natural Resources, and the Department of Transportation,” added Kidani. “Working with what we have, I think my colleagues and I did a good job in making smart financial decisions for our state and the people of Hawaii.”

Highlights of the budget include:

Education

  • $15 million for the weighted student formula, which are funds given to schools based on enrollment and other factors.
  • $2 million for school athletics.
  • $1.925 million for Strive-HI performance system, which was designed to measure and better understand school performance and progress, and to help tailor rewards, supports and interventions for school improvement.
  • $600,000 for the educator evaluation system.
  • $579,208 for the professional development management system.
  • $256,000 for teacher induction and mentoring program.
  • $200,000 for a contract with Teach for America.
  • $3 million for early learning through the prekindergarten program.
  • $9 million to cover the shortfall in utility costs
  • $592,000 in general funds for sabbatical leave for teachers

Charter Schools

  • $800,000 for additional funding to mitigate charter school commission costs.
  • $134,802 for charter school per-pupil allotment

Public Libraries

  • $685,000 for electricity budget shortfall in libraries statewide.
  • $200,000 to increase security services at libraries statewide.
  • $600,000 to maintain computers and other technological services offered by Hawaii State Public Libraries System to patrons.

Health

  • $5 million for the Hawaii Health Systems Corporation.
  • $2 million for the Hilo Medical Center primary care residency program.
  • $750,000 for Hawaii Health Information Exchange for operational and technical support. 

University of Hawaii

  • 89 positions and $4 million for the University of Hawaii West Oahu campus.
  • $1 million for community college outcome based funding.
  • $19.5 million in general funds for UHPA employees’ salary increases.
  • Increase of the special fund ceiling by nearly $46 million to support UH-Manoa campus operations and programs.
  • 50 positions to support UH community colleges operations. 

Agriculture

  • 4 positions and $96,309 for the pesticides branch.

Human Services

  • $5.5 million for foster care payment rate increase.
  • $500,000 for the REACH program.
  • $200,000 for Hawaii Health Information Exchange for Medicaid services.

Environment

  • $577,000 for operating expenses for conservation and resources enforcement officers.
  • 12 temporary positions and $800,000 for community fisheries enforcement units.
  • $100,000 in general funds and $3.9 million in special funds for the International Union for Conservation of Nature World Conservation 2016 Congress.

Public Safety

  • 10 positions and $259,930 for hospital and suicide watch posts.
  • 6 positions and $155,958 for hospital and suicide watch posts.
  • 20 positions and $786,718 for mental health treatment at correctional facilities.

CIPs

HB1700 provides nearly $900 million to fund projects that continue the progress begun over the last few years in renovating, repairing and maintaining existing state-owned facilities to utilize our current resources and reduce general fund expenditures in the future. Including:

  • $700 million for the Department of Education and $90 million for the UH system
  • Remainder allocated to hundreds of other projects, mainly in the Department of Health, DLNR and DAGS.
  • Major funding in the amount of $1.9 billion is provided to the Department of Transportation for highways, harbors and airports, including an additional $280 million for the new Mauka concourse at Honolulu International Airport.

HB1700 addresses future capacity needs and economic growth. Including:

  • Funding for the much anticipated UH Hilo College of Pharmacy in the amount of $33 million.
  • Allied Health and Administration Building for the growing UH West Oahu campus at Kapolei in the amount of $28 million.
  • Following last year’s major investment in technology infrastructure, the budget this year includes an investment of $100 million in state and matching federal funds for Kolea, the new eligibility system for public assistance programs.

###

Senator David Ige Proposes Plan to Fund the Turtle Bay Conservation Easement

Proposal ensures protection and preservation of North Shore lands


 Hawaii State Senator David Ige has proposed a plan that would provide the $40 million needed to complete the agreement reached last week between the State of Hawaii, City and County of Honolulu, The Trust for Public Land, and Turtle Bay Resort (TBR) to establish a conservation easement on 665.8 acres of land at Turtle Bay Resort in Kahuku.

 “I have always been an advocate for the preservation of the North Shore community,” said Ige, chair of the Senate Ways and Means Committee. “I have been working with my colleagues in the Senate and believe we have a solution to fund the settlement agreement within the constraints of our budget.”

The proposed plan would restructure the debt currently owed on the Hawaii Convention Center. Ige’s proposal calls for $33 million of the transient accommodations tax (TAT) that currently goes to the Hawaii Tourism Authority (HTA) to pay for debt services and operating costs to be restructured so that interest payments will be reduced from $26 million to $16 million. A portion of the interest savings from the restructuring would then be set aside to pay the interest for revenue bonds.

“We are proposing to authorize $40 million in revenue bonds in the budget and dedicate $33 million of the TAT that currently go towards the HTA in order to pay the debt services on that revenue bond,” Ige explained. “The plan is also an opportunity to expand our efforts to invest the TAT in core infrastructure and the preservation of natural resources in the State so that residents and visitors can see the direct impact of the TAT revenues.“

“Forty million is a significant amount of money,” added Ige. “To put it into perspective, it could fund construction of one and a half elementary schools. Through this proposal, we avoid having to cut funding from other important projects in our CIP budget while still investing in land preservation. I believe this is a solution that works within existing resources, is smart financing, and creates an opportunity for the state to avoid any additional appropriation, taxes or fees.”

 ### 

Art at the Capitol 2014 Concludes

Last Friday was the 6th annual Art at the Capitol, where lawmakers welcomed the public to tour their offices to view the publicly held artwork there.

This year’s theme was Illuminating the Legislative Process for the featured complementary chandeliers hanging in the Senate and House chambers at the Hawaii State Capitol.

The “Sun” and “Moon” by kinetic artist, Otto Piene, hang in the House and Senate chambers of the Hawaii State Legislature at the State Capitol

The kinetic light sculptures were commissioned by the State of Hawaii and installed in the koa-lined chambers of the House and Senate in 1971. The House Sun is a gold-plated sphere with 132 smaller golden orbs while the Senate Moon is a silver ball of 630 chambered nautilus shells. The featured artist, Otto Piene was unable to attend the event, but was interviewed speaking about the two complementary sculptures.

Art at the Capitol began in 2008 as Senator Brian Taniguchi’s initiative to welcome the public to view the variety of state-owned artwork displayed not just in the open areas of the State Capitol, but the legislative offices as well.  More than 900 pieces of artwork in the collection of the Hawaii State Foundation on Arts and Culture’s Art in Public Places Program are displayed at the State Capitol.

Two string quartets in the Hawaii Youth Symphony Orchestra played music for guests as they enjoyed the artwork in various legislators’ offices.

Many of the artwork in the Art in Public Places collection are done by artists local to the area. Some were on hand to talk about the works displayed in various offices.


Senator Ige with artist Steve Martin, who created the stoneware vessel displayed in his office.

Some senators provided additional entertainment and refreshment for guests.


Senator Gabbard shows off his Jean Charlot painting and offers his wife’s homemade toffee treats to constituents and guests.


Senator Jill Tokuda entertains guests with music from a harpist and flutist in her office for Art at the Capitol

Many legislators personally welcomed visitors to their offices.


Senator Espero greets guests to his office


Senator Kidani describes painting above her workstation a calming window


Senator Nishihara poses with guests in his office

Senators’ staff were also on hand to discuss the artwork in the offices.


Senate President Donna Mercado Kim’s staff members rest under a wall of photographs.

Many people brought their families to the First Friday because appreciation of art has no age limits.


Guests in show off their 2014 Art at the Capitol packet in Senator Green’s office.


Senator Kahele and Senate Sergeant of Arms, Ben Villaflor taking a break to listen to the Hawaii Symphony Orchestra quartet

The evening was a fun and successful one and we hope that you will join us next year at Art at the Capitol.

Senate Committee on Ways and Means Passes Fiscally Responsible State Supplemental Budget Bill Following Changes in Economic Outlook

Following lower tax revenue projections, the Senate Committee on Ways and Means today passed a fiscally responsible HB1700 HD1 SD1, the supplemental appropriations act of 2014, which includes less spending while continuing to support education, health, human services, the environment and public safety. The bill adjusts appropriations for the operating and capital improvement budgets of the Executive Branch for Fiscal Biennium 2013-2015.

Compared to the Governor Neil Abercrombie’s budget proposal, for FY2013-2014, the Senate’s version of the bill reduces all funds by $46.1 million, inclusive of a general fund reduction of $45.8 million. For FY2014-2015, the bill reduces all funds by $167.9 million, inclusive of a general fund reduction of $158.7 million.

“As we did last year, the Senate displayed fiscal restraint. Given weak revenue projections, we made smart policy decisions by taking a conservative and responsible approach to the supplemental budget,” said Sen. David Ige, chair of the Senate Ways and Means Committee.

On March 11, 2014, the Council on Revenues reduced its projected general fund tax revenue growth, from 3.3 percent to zero percent in FY2013-2014 and 7.4 percent to 5.5 percent in FY2014-2015. Combining this with the Department of Budget and Finance’s estimated reduction of general fund non-tax revenue growth, it’s projected that there will be a cumulative total of $491.8 million less in general funds over the current fiscal biennium.

The bill does not include funding for certain administration requests that are intended to be funded under other appropriation measures, including joint majority package bills. Sen. Ige said that these reductions should not be counted as actual “savings.” The reductions include $33.5 million for the UHPA salaries, $1.0 million for the Hawaii Invasive Species Council, and $4.9 million for Kupuna Care and other senior citizen programs.

“We wanted to take prompt action to ensure that there would be enough time in conference and continue discussions with our counterparts in the House,” added Ige.

Highlights

The following are major general fund appropriations included in the Senate version of the bill:

Department of Education

    • $15.0 million for the weighted student formula;
    • $2.0 million for the Strive HI school performance improvement system;
    • $2.0 million for student athletics.

Office of Early Learning

    • $5.7 million for early learning pilot projects, including the pre-kindergarten and family child interactive learning projects.

Department of Human Services

    • $3.0 million for Preschool Open Doors;
    • $1.5 million for Housing First; and
    • $5.5 million (plus $2.9 million in federal funds) to adjust to the monthly foster families board rates.

Department of Health

    • $3.2 million for home and community based services waiver for the developmentally disabled; and
    • $1.2 million for early intervention services contracts for infants and toddlers.

Hawaii Health Systems Corporation

    • $4.5 million to replace lost federal funds.

Department of Land and Natural Resources

    • $1.5 million for the Conservation and Resource Enforcement Unit.
    • $2.5 million (plus $1.0 million in special funds) for the watershed program;
    • $100,000 (plus $3.9 million in special funds) for the bid to host the International Union for Conservation Congress in 2016; and

Department of Public Safety

    • $2.0 million in program costs, which may be used at the discretion of the Department for such programs as the justice reinvestment initiative;
    • $786,718 for mental health care positions; and
    • $519,860 for suicide/hospital watch positions.

University of Hawaii

    • $5 million and 89 positions for the University of Hawaii, West Oahu;
    • Adding $47 Million and $9.2 Million in revolving fund for various programs for UH Manoa;
    • $9.3 Million in special funds for various programs for the University of Hawaii, John A. Burns School of Medicine;
    • $2.0 Million for various programs at UH Hilo; and
    • Adding 50 positions for community colleges

The following are Capital Improvement Project (CIP) highlights:

Department of Education: $638 million

University of Hawaii: $625 million for College of Pharmacy, restore health and safety funding, provide repair and maintenance funding

Department of Transportation

    • Reduced funding in all areas for new project, plus additional appropriations to existing projects
    • Revenue bonds reduced by $430 million from executive request
    • Federal funds reduced by $220 million from executive request

###

Statement from Sen. David Ige on Nearly $500 Million in Projected Revenue Loss

“Based on the latest report, we can clearly see that almost half a billion dollars has been cut out of the Governor’s budget, which will now be in the negative in fiscal year 2015.  We will have to take a closer look at his requests and what areas we need to cut in order to end the day with a balanced budget.

“As we initially anticipated, the touted $844 million surplus has evaporated due to this latest projection.  Last year we wanted to be cautious about what we funded and ended the session supporting many pilot projects instead of establishing new programs that we may not have been able to sustain. This latest forecast justifies that approach, and had we funded those programs, we would be forced to cut them this year based on these figures.

“I do not believe that we need to dip back into the State reserves to balance the budget, but clearly any additional request by the Governor will need to be reexamined.”

Sen. David Ige, chair of the Ways and Means Committee

###

Senators Strike a Balance to Move Minimum Wage

Ways and Means Committee Approves SB 2609



The Senate Committee on Ways and Means today advanced an amended version of Senate Bill 2609, a measure that would incrementally increase Hawaii’s minimum wage from $7.25 to $10.10 by 2017.

The changes to the measure reflect the committees desire to strike a balance between concerns from advocates on both sides of the issue to ensure lawmakers craft a responsible bill that boosts the minimum wage while not hampering small entrepreneurs.

“Since last session, I have been in support of a minimum wage increase and have been working toward an accord. We’re at the midpoint of the legislative session and there are several moving vehicles and ideas for lawmakers to consider,” said Sen. David Ige, chairman of the Senate Ways and Means Committee. “I’m committed to ironing out the differences in opinion on this very important policy issue and am hopeful that we can strike a balance between all stakeholders so that we can come to an agreement by the end of the session.”

Senator David Ige, with prior concurrence from Sen. Clayton Hee, chair of the Senate Judiciary Committee, recommended the following amendments to the measure:

  • Delete the provision for authorizing the Department of Labor and Industrial Relations to adjust the minimum hourly wage to the nearest 5 cents based on the Honolulu region consumer price index
  • Delete the repeal of the tip credit
  • Add a blank amount tip credit

These amendments will allow lawmakers to further the discussion, consider new proposals such as a “poverty threshold” to help protect low-income workers, and work out specifics on the amount of the tip credit.

All but one committee member voted to pass SB2609 out of committee. While discussing the recommended changes to the bill, colleagues acknowledged Ige for his work to “strike a balance” and thanked all advocates in the hearing room for their patience and participation in the legislative process.

The measure will now go to the Senate floor for third reading where, if approved, will then move to the House for consideration. Senators are expected to take this bill up during a full floor session on Tuesday, March 4.

###

Senate Advances Measure to Provide for Emergency Funding to Kauai Hospitals

HONOLULU – The Hawaii State Senate today passed House Bill (HB) 3, to provide emergency funding to the Kauai Regional Health Care System of the Hawaii Health Systems Corporation (HHSC).

HB 3 appropriates $7.3 million for fiscal year 2013-2014 to sustain the HHSC Kauai Regional Health Care System.  The emergency funding will ensure that Kauai’s two critical access hospitals, West Kauai Medical Center and Samuel Mahelona Memorial Hospital, Kauai’s only inpatient psychiatric unit, long-term care operations and three physician clinics, will remain operational through the spring of 2014.

This measure is necessary to safeguard Kauai’s residents and visitors access to essential health care services,” said Senate Vice President Ronald D. Kouchi, who represents the islands of Kauai and Niihau.  “I strongly appreciate the Ways and Means Committee chair, Senator David Ige, and the Health Committee chair, Senator Josh Green, M.D., for recognizing the critical need for this emergency appropriation and the three Kauai House of Representatives, James Kunane Tokioka, Dee Morikawa, and Derek Kawakami for their diligent work in aiding the passage of this measure.”

The measure will now be sent to Governor Neil Abercrombie for approval.

© Copyright Hawai'i Senate Majority Caucus - Theme by Pexeto