Video by David Corrigan
Renewable energy was a focus of Governor Neil Abercrombie’s keynote speech at the Hawaii County Democratic Party Convention in Kona on Saturday, and the tax disparity between East and West Hawaii Island was also brought up.
Talking about the important topics that he says the party should be rallying behind, Abercrombie stressed energy independence. “This is a matter of our survivability,” said the governor. “This is a matter of keeping us inundated from international global forces.”
“We are running out of time,” warned Abercrombie. “I want to get past arguements about biofuels vs. geothermal vs. solar vs. wind. We’re going to have to do everything we can, just to survive.”
Abercrombie then shifted his discussion to the needs that become apparent by observing the differences in the tax structure on the Big Island; the classic East side population base vs the West side majority tax revenues (officials at the convention said 77% of the county tax revenues come from the west side).
“Let me tell you what it tells me…” said the governor. “The majority of the population is elsewhere, the majority of the taxes is here (in Kona). What that tells me is, there’s a hell of a lack of workforce housing on this side of the island, that needs to be addressed.”
The governor tied the disparity back to energy. “I bet there is an awful lot of dollars going into that gas tank, to try to get people back and forth to work over here. And that means there is a distortion in the economy in term of what is available to you in terms of whats called discretionary dollars.”
“We’ve got to do something about that,” the governor told the room of Democrats.
The governor did not offer literal solutions, but he did say that the state needs to sit down to hatch out a plan, and push the legislature to vote it through. Abercrombie learned this year that convincing the fellow Democrat controlled legislature to adopt parts of his New Day Hawaii plan is easier said than done.