How Abercrombie Fared at the 2012 Legislature
If last year's theme was "righting the canoe," this year's theme is all about investing in the economy and the future.
With Gov. Neil Abercrombie's symbolic canoe no longer in jeopardy of capsizing, he's eased up on his mantra that we all need to paddle.
His new investment strategy is at the forefront of an $11 billion operating budget and $3 billion capital projects budget lawmakers have approved. It's also evident in the governor's legislative push for a "Justice Reinvestment" plan and new health programs for kupuna and keiki — initiatives lawmakers also agreed to.
At the close of legislative session Thursday, the governor's office said such "investments will shape Hawaii's future in critical areas including elderly care, early childhood education, environment and energy."
"We can all be proud of the successes that were achieved by the administration and the Legislature working in a spirit of cooperation and commitment to the public good," Abercrombie said in a statement. "We set out to invest now for the future and I believe that's exactly what we have accomplished."
The tone is a far cry from last year, when the governor saw considerable pushback for some controversial proposals, most notably bills that would have taxed pension income and eliminated Medicare Part B reimbursements for public retirees to generate extra cash.
Some notable differences this time around: Abercrombie testified in-person on several of his bills. He took a front-row seat at after-hours conference committee negotiations on the state budget. His staff and advisers — former state lawmakers Blake Oshiro and Kate Stanley, legislative liaison Debbie Shimizu and Chief of Staff Bruce Coppa — had a constant presence at the Capitol, in hearings and conference committees.
The full-court press seemed to pay off. Here's a look at how some of the governor's initiatives fared.