HONOLULU — State Sen. David Ige said his first priority if he is elected governor would be to submit a balanced budget and collect $450 million in unpaid taxes. Gov. Neil Abercrombie wants to prioritize affordable housing and smart growth.
The Democratic rivals shared details of their plans for the next four years on Wednesday, ahead of the Aug. 9 primary.
Ige said he would not raise taxes and he rejected Abercrombie’s prior plan to tax retiree pensions, soda, transit accommodations and plastic bags.
“As the chairman of the Senate Ways and Means Committee for the past four years, I crafted a balanced budget in each of those years,” Ige said in his proposal. “During that time, I reduced the governor’s spending proposals by a total of $1 billion. That is why the state now enjoys an $800 million surplus.”
He said his philosophy in budgeting is that the state must operate within its means instead of raising taxes.
Ige’s other priorities include increasing domestic and international travel to the state.
Abercrombie said increasing the housing supply is essential to easing homelessness. He said the state should provide an additional $100 million for the Rental Housing Trust Fund to be used for homeless initiatives and micro-units during the next four years.
“The need for low-income public housing is almost twice the current available supply,” Abercrombie said in his proposal. “There are no easy solutions, but my administration is committed to working collaboratively with the counties and building public-private partnerships” to benefit people who need housing, he said.
In releasing their plans, the candidates also clashed about their leadership style.
“I am running for governor because Hawaii needs a new style of leadership,” Ige said. “There will be no name-calling when I disagree with anyone, no disparaging remarks toward anyone, no taking sole credit for collective achievements or blaming others when things go wrong.”
Ige said he would keep his appointees to a high standard of transparency and accessibility to assure the public there are no conflicts of interest.
Abercrombie criticized Ige’s plan, calling it “vague.” But while giving credit to Ige for his work on the budget in the Legislature, Abercrombie joked, “I would be happy to think about finding a position for him in our next administration.”
The winner of the primary is likely to face Republican James “Duke” Aiona and Independent Party candidate Mufi Hannemann in November.