The governor of Hawaii is the highest elected state official. As the chief executive, the governor is tasked to ensure the faithful execution of laws, according to the Hawaii Constitution. The governor is the commander in chief of the armed forces of the state and may use those forces to ensure the execution of laws, suppress and prevent insurrection, violence or repel invasion.
As the head of the executive branch of state government, the governor must perform several duties. These are not limited to but include the following: creating a state budget, appointing officials, vetoing or passing state legislation and giving an annual State of the State address.
At the beginning of each legislative session in the state Legislature, the governor must inform representatives about the affairs of the state. The governor may recommend measures to be taken up by the Legislature to address those affairs. The governor may grant reprieves and pardons for offenses.
The salary in 2011 was $117,312.
Democrat Neil Abercrombie was elected to Hawaii’s top post in the 2010 general election. Along with running mate Brian Schatz, Abercrombie trounced Republican opponents Lt. Gov. James “Duke” Aiona and Lynn Finnegan 58-41 percent.
Powers of the Governor
According to Article 5, Section 5 of the Hawaii State Constitution, the executive powers of the governor include the following:
“The governor shall be responsible for the faithful execution of the laws. The governor shall be commander in chief of the armed forces of the State and may call out such forces to execute the laws, suppress or prevent insurrection or lawless violence or repel invasion. The governor shall, at the beginning of each session, and may, at other times, give to the legislature information concerning the affairs of the State and recommend to its consideration such measures as the governor shall deem expedient.
“The governor may grant reprieves, commutations and pardons, after conviction, for all offenses, subject to regulation by law as to the manner of applying for the same. The legislature may, by general law, authorize the governor to grant pardons before conviction, to grant pardons for impeachment and to restore civil rights denied by reason of conviction of offenses by tribunals other than those of this State.
“The governor shall appoint an administrative director to serve at the governor’s pleasure. [Ren and am Const Con 1978 and election Nov 7, 1978]”
In regards to executive and administrative office and departments, Article 5, Section 6 of the state Constitution says the following:
“All executive and administrative offices, departments and instrumentalities of the state government and their respective powers and duties shall be allocated by law among and within not more than twenty principal departments in such a manner as to group the same according to common purposes and related functions. Temporary commissions or agencies for special purposes may be established by law and need not be allocated within a principal department.
“Each principal department shall be under the supervision of the governor and, unless otherwise provided in this constitution or by law, shall be headed by a single executive. Such single executive shall be nominated and, by and with the advice and consent of the senate, appointed by the governor. That person shall hold office for a term to expire at the end of the term for which the governor was elected, unless sooner removed by the governor; except that the removal of the chief legal officer of the State shall be subject to the advice and consent of the senate.
“Except as otherwise provided in this constitution, whenever a board, commission or other body shall be the head of a principal department of the state government, the members thereof shall be nominated and, by and with the advice and consent of the senate, appointed by the governor. The term of office and removal of such members shall be as provided by law. Such board, commission or other body may appoint a principal executive officer who, when authorized by law, may be an ex officio, voting member thereof, and who may be removed by a majority vote of the members appointed by the governor.
“The governor shall nominate and, by and with the advice and consent of the senate, appoint all officers for whose election or appointment provision is not otherwise provided for by this constitution or by law. If the manner or removal of an officer is not prescribed in this constitution, removal shall be as provided by law.
“When the senate is not in session and a vacancy occurs in any office, appointment to which requires the confirmation of the senate, the governor may fill the office by granting a commission which shall expire, unless such appointment is confirmed, at the end of the next session of the senate. The person so appointed shall not be eligible for another interim appointment to such office if the appointment failed to be confirmed by the senate.
“No person who has been nominated for appointment to any office and whose appointment has not received the consent of the senate shall be eligible to an interim appointment thereafter to such office.
“Every officer appointed under the provisions of this section shall be a citizen of the United States and shall have been a resident of this State for at least one year immediately preceding that person’s appointment, except that this residency requirement shall not apply to the president of the University of Hawaii. [Am Const Con 1968 and election Nov 5, 1968; ren and am Const Con 1978 and election Nov 7, 1978]”
There have been six governors since statehood in 1959. Two have been Republicans, four Democrats. A list of Hawaii’s governors is below:
- William F. Quinn, Republican, 1959-1962
- John A. Burns, Democrat, 1962-1974
- George Ariyoshi, Democrat, 1974-1986
- John D. Waihee, Democrat, 1986-1994
- Ben Cayetano, Democrat, 1994-2002
- Linda Lingle, Republican, 2002-2010
- Neil Abercrombie, Democrat, 2010-(First term will expire in 2014)
State Capitol, Room 415 Honolulu, Hawaii 96813 Phone: (808) 586-0221 or (808) 586-0222 Fax: (808) 586-0019
Phone: (808) 586-0034
Fax: (808) 586-0006