State of the state

Gov. Neil Abercrombie’s State of the State address Tuesday was brief and to the point.

The 30-minute address emphasized programs for the young and the old while urging fiscal restraint.

Yes, the governor took credit for taking the $200 million deficit he inherited when he entered office and turning it into an $844 million surplus. He should take credit – he correctly asserts he made the hard decisions necessary to deal with the lingering effects of the recession.

He has been a good steward of the state’s resources.

His plans for pre-K education need more work, but the intent is good. The governor is proposing $8 million in “resources for family-child interaction programs.”

As we wrote last Saturday, designated funding sources for the program need to be developed. We also agree with those who are worried that it will be tough for public and private plans for pre-K to work hand in hand.

Some expressed fear that funds would be taken from successful programs like Open Doors to pay for public options. That is not the governor’s intent, but a detailed plan of the interlacing of public and private needs to be worked out.

Abercrombie will seek additional funding for early intervention services for the Department of Health – helping the very young (birth to 3 years old) who have developmental delays.

The governor proposed exempting pensions of those 65 and older from state income tax. Currently, only those who have an employer-sponsored pension are exempt from state income tax.

Abercrombie would exempt those 65 years and older with an adjusted gross income of $25,000 from Hawaii income tax. That number would climb to $35,000 for heads of households and to $45,000 for folks filing a joint return. Under Abercrombie’s proposals to the Legislature, seniors would also see a doubling of the food/excise tax credit.

The speech also addressed climate change, sustainability, minimum wage and the state’s contributions to science, but our main takeaways were the proposals for the young and the old.

In general terms, the proposals are sound.

* Editorials reflect the opinion of the publisher.