Governor of Hawaii

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Hawaii Governor
General information
Office Type:  Partisan
Office website:  Official Link
2013-2014 FY Budget:  $4,335,171
Term limits:  2 consecutive terms
Length of term:   4 years
Authority:  Hawaii Constitution, Article V, Section 1
Selection Method:  Elected
Current Officeholder

David Ige.jpg
Name:  David Ige
Officeholder Party:  Democratic
Assumed office:  December 1, 2014
Compensation:  $143,748
Next election:  November 6, 2018
Last election:  November 4, 2014
Other Hawaii Executive Offices
GovernorLieutenant GovernorAttorney GeneralDirector of FinanceAuditorSuperintendent of EducationAgriculture CommissionerDirector of Commerce and Consumer AffairsChairperson of Land and Natural ResourcesDirector of Labor and Industrial RelationsPublic Utilities Commission
The Governor of the State of Hawaii, also called Ke Kiaaina o Hawaii, is an elected constitutional officer, the head of the executive branch and the highest state office in Hawaii. It is a directly elected position, votes being cast by popular suffrage of residents of the state. The governor is elected by a plurality and is limited to two four-year terms.

As of May 2015, Hawaii is one of 7 Democratic state government trifectas.

See also: Hawaii State Legislature, Hawaii House of Representatives, Hawaii State Senate

Current officeholder

The 8th and current governor of Hawaii is David Ige (D). He was first elected in November 2014 and sworn in on December 1, 2014. Ige replaced Neil Abercrombie (D) during a swearing-in ceremony on December 1, 2014. Prior to his inauguration, Ige was a member of the Hawaii State Senate from 1994 to 2014.[1]


The state constitution establishes the office of the governor in Article V, the Executive Department.

Hawaii Constitution, Article V, Section 1

The executive power of the State shall be vested in a governor.


Current Governors
Gubernatorial Elections
Current Lt. Governors
Lt. Governor Elections
Breaking news

A governor is:

  • required to be at least 30 years old,
  • required to have been a resident of Hawaii for five consecutive years previous to election,
  • barred from other professions or paid positions during the term.

Hawaii Constitution, Article V, Section 1

No person shall be eligible for the office of governor unless the person shall be a qualified voter, have attained the age of thirty years and have been a resident of this State for five years immediately preceding the person's election.

The governor shall not hold any other office or employment of profit under the State or the United States during the governor's term of office. '


Hawaii state government organizational chart
See also: Gubernatorial election cycles by state
See also: Election of governors

Hawaii elects governors in the midterm elections, that is, even years that are not presidential election years. For Hawaii, 2018, 2022, 2026, 2030 and 2034 are all gubernatorial election years.

Hawaii's governor is not only the youngest chief executive's office in the United States, by date, it is tied with Alaska as the earliest inaugural date in the nation. The inauguration is always held at noon on the first Monday in December following an election.

Hawaii is one of only three states, the others being New Jersey and Tennessee, where the governor is the only statewide elected office.

Term limits

See also: States with gubernatorial term limits

Hawaii governors are restricted to two consecutive terms in office, after which they must wait one term before being eligible to run again.

Hawaii Constitution, Section V, Section 1

No person shall be elected to the office of governor for more than two consecutive full terms.


See also: Hawaii Gubernatorial election, 2014
Governor and Lieutenant Governor of Hawaii, 2014
Party Candidate Vote % Votes
     Democratic Green check mark transparent.pngDavid Ige/Shan Tsutsui 49.5% 181,065
     Republican Duke Aiona/Elwin Ahu 37.1% 135,742
     Independent Mufi Hannemann/Les Chang 11.7% 42,925
     Libertarian Jeff Davis/Cindy Marlin 1.7% 6,393
Total Votes 366,125
Election Results via Hawaii Office of Elections.

Full history

Partisan composition

The chart below shows the partisan breakdown of Hawaii governors from 1992-2013.
Governor of Hawaii Partisanship.PNG


See also: How gubernatorial vacancies are filled

Details of vacancies are addressed under Article V, Section 4 of the Hawaii Constitution.

The Lieutenant Governor of Hawaii becomes acting governor upon the governor's absence from the state or disability from discharging duties, either temporarily or permanently.



Unlike all but two other states in the union (Tennessee and New Jersey), the only elected state office in Hawaii is the governor. In keeping with his unusual stature, the governor has a wide-reaching authority stronger than many other governors in the U.S. The administrative powers of the Hawaii executive are more centralized than that of most other states with little authority devolved to the county, and unlike other states there are no local school districts.

It is because of this central authority that the governor is locally considered one of the most powerful governors in the United States. The governorship of Hawaii has often been characterized by the Honolulu Advertiser, Honolulu Star-Bulletin and various other local media as an "elected monarchy" referring to the most current governors as "King Ben" and "Queen Linda" in headlines during their tenures. Included within the governor's sphere of jurisdiction is the power to appoint all judges of the various courts within the Hawaii judicial system, subject to the approval of the Hawaii Senate.[2]

The governor is responsible for enforcing laws passed by the Hawaii State Legislature and upholding rulings of the state judiciary. He is also commander-in-chief of the armed forces of Hawaii and has the power to use them to execute laws, suppress insurrection and violence and repel invasion. The governor is the chief executive of the State of Hawaii and its various agencies and departments, as provided for in the Hawaii Constitution, Article V, Sections 1 through 6.

The state of Hawaii does not have fixed cabinet positions and departments. By law, the governor has the power to create his or her cabinet and departments as needed as long as the executive department is composed of no more than 20 bodies and cabinet members. He is also empowered to remove cabinet officers at will, with the exception of the Attorney General of Hawaii, who must be removed by an act of the Hawaii State Senate.

Other duties and privileges of the office include:

  • Issuing pardons, reprieves, commutations and forgiving fines and forfeitures. With legislative approval, the governor may also grants pardons for impeachment and restore civil rights suspended subsequent to a conviction from another state.
  • Appointing an administrative director who serves at the governor's pleasure.


  • Executive Administration
  • Communications
  • Policy
  • Constituent Services
  • Boards & Commissions
  • Washington Place
  • Operations
  • Office of Collective Bargaining[3]

State budget

Role in state budget

See also: Hawaii state budget and finances

Hawaii operates on a biennial budget cycle, with each biennium beginning in July. The sequence of key events in the budget process is as follows:[4][5]

  1. Budget instructions are sent to state agencies in July or August of the year preceding the start of the new biennium.
  2. State agencies submit their budget requests to the governor by September.
  3. Agency hearings are held in November.
  4. The governor submits his or her proposed budget to the state legislature in December.
  5. In April and May the legislature debates the budget. A simple majority is required to pass a budget.

Hawaii is one of 44 states in which the governor has line item veto authority.[5]

The governor is required by law to submit a balanced budget to the legislature. Though the legislature is not required to pass a balanced budget, the budget must to balanced for the governor to sign it into law.[5]

Governor's office budget

The Office of Governor's budget for fiscal year 2013-2014 was $4,335,171. Fiscal year 2014-2015 will be $3,468,599.[6]


See also: Comparison of gubernatorial salaries and Compensation of state executive officers

The salaries of elected and appointed executives in Hawaii are determined by the Hawaii Commission on Salaries, which was established by constitutional amendment in 2006. Passage of this amendment by the public added the following language to Article XVI of the state constitution:

Article XVI, Section 3.5 of the Hawaii Constitution

Text of Section 3.5:

There shall be a commission on salaries as provided by law, which shall review and recommend salaries for the justices and judges of all state courts, members of the legislature, department heads or executive officers of the executive departments and the deputies or assistants to department heads of the executive departments as provided by law, excluding the University of Hawaii and the department of education. The commission shall also review and make recommendations for the salary of the administrative director of the State or equivalent position and the salary of the governor and the lieutenant governor.

Any salary established pursuant to this section shall not be decreased during a term of office, unless by general law applying to all salaried officers of the State.

Not later than the fortieth legislative day of the 2007 regular legislative session and every six years thereafter, the commission shall submit to the legislature its recommendations and then dissolve.

The recommended salaries submitted shall become effective as provided in the recommendation, unless the legislature disapproves the entire recommendation as a whole by adoption of a concurrent resolution prior to adjournment sine die of the legislative session in which the recommendation is submitted; provided that any change in salary which becomes effective shall not apply to the legislature to which the recommendation for the change in salary was submitted.[7]

The commission consists of seven members selected by the governor (two seats), the President of the Hawaii State Senate (two seats), Speaker of the Hawaii House of Representatives (two seats) and the Chief Justice of the state Supreme Court (one seat). Commissioners meet every six years to evaluate salaries for executive, judicial and legislative officials. Their recommendations go into effect unless the Hawaii State Legislature votes to reject the entirety of the commission's final report. The commission last met in November 2012 and made recommendations for official salaries between 2013 and 2018.[8]


In 2014, the governor received a salary of $143,748, according to the Council of State Governments.[9]


In 2013, the governor's salary remained at $117,312, according to the Council of State Governments.[10]


In 2010, the governor was paid $117,312 a year, the 31st highest gubernatorial salary in America.


Partisan balance 1992-2013

Who Runs the States Project
See also: Ballotpedia:Who Runs the States and Ballotpedia:Who Runs the States, Hawaii
Partisan breakdown of the Hawaii governorship from 1992-2013

From 1992-2013, Hawaii had Democratic governors in office for 14 years while there were Republican governors in office for eight years. During the final three years of the study, Hawaii was under Democratic trifectas.

Across the country, there were 493 years of Democratic governors (44.82%) and 586 years of Republican governors (53.27%) from 1992-2013.

Over the course of the 22-year study, state governments became increasingly more partisan. At the outset of the study period (1992), 18 of the 49 states with partisan legislatures had single-party trifectas and 31 states had divided governments. In 2013, only 13 states had divided governments, while single-party trifectas held sway in 36 states, the most in the 22 years studied.

The chart below shows the partisan composition of the Office of the Governor of Hawaii, the Hawaii State Senate and the Hawaii House of Representatives from 1992-2013.

Partisan composition of Hawaii state government(1992-2013).PNG

SQLI and partisanship

The chart below depicts the partisanship of the Hawaii state government and the state's SQLI ranking for the years studied. For the SQLI, the states were ranked from 1-50, with 1 being the best and 50 the worst. Hawaii has never had a Republican trifecta, but has had a Democratic trifecta between the years 1992 and 2002, and again beginning in 2011. The interruption of these two periods came in 2003 with a Republican governor. The state’s highest SQLI ranking (11th) came in 1993 under a Democratic trifecta, while Hawaii’s lowest SQLI ranking (39th) in 1999 and 2001, also under a Democratic trifecta. The state saw a precipitous decline in its ranking between 1994 and 1995, falling thirteen spots from 15th to 28th. Between 1996 and 1997, the state recovered in its SQLI ranking by nine spots before dropping to a new low (39th) in 1999.

  • SQLI average with Democratic trifecta: 29.46
  • SQLI average with Republican trifecta: N/A
  • SQLI average with divided government: 33.88
Chart displaying the partisanship of Hawaii government from 1992-2013 and the State Quality of Life Index (SQLI).

Historical officeholders

There have been seven governors since 1957. Of the seven officeholders, two were Republican and five were Democratic.[11]

# Name Took office Left office Party
1 William F. Quinn August 21, 1959 1962 Republican
2 John A. Burns 1962 1974 Democratic
3 George R. Ariyoshi 1974 1986 Democratic
4 John Waihee 1986 1994 Democratic
5 Benjamin Cayetano 1994 2002 Democratic
6 Linda Lingle 2002 2010 Republican
7 Neil Abercrombie 2010 2014 Democratic
8 David Ige 2014 Present Democratic

State profile

Hawaii's population in 2014 was 1,419,561.

Hawaii's population in 2014 was 1,419,561 according to the United States Census Bureau. This estimate represented a 4.4 percent increase from the bureau's 2010 estimate. The state's population per square mile was 211.8 in 2010, exceeding the national average of 87.4.

Hawaii experienced a 1.3 percent increase in total employment from 2011 to 2012 based on census data, falling below the 2.2 percent increase at the national level during the same period.[12]


Hawaii exceeded the national average for residents who attained at least bachelor's degrees based on census data from 2009 to 2013. The United States Census Bureau found that 30.1 percent of Hawaii residents aged 25 years and older attained bachelor's degrees compared to 28.8 percent at the national level.

The median household income in Hawaii was $67,402 between 2009 and 2013 compared to a $53,046 national median income. Census information showed a 10.8 percent poverty rate in Hawaii during the study period compared to a 14.5 percent national poverty rate.[12]

Racial Demographics, 2013[12]
Race Hawaii (%) United States (%)
White 26.6 77.7
Black or African American 2.3 13.2
Native Hawaiian and Other Pacific Islander 10.0 0.2
American Indian and Alaska Native 0.4 1.2
Asian 37.7 5.3
Two or More Races 23.1 2.4
Hispanic or Latino 9.8 17.1

Presidential Voting Pattern, 2000-2012[13][14]
Year Democratic vote in Hawaii (%) Republican vote in Hawaii (%) Democratic vote in U.S. (%) Republican vote in U.S. (%)
2012 70.1 27.7 51.1 47.2
2008 71.5 26.4 52.9 45.7
2004 53.7 45.0 48.3 50.7
2000 55.3 37.1 48.4 47.9

Note: Each column will add up to 100 percent after removing the "Hispanic or Latino" percentage, although rounding by the Census Bureau may make the total one- or two-tenths off. Read more about race and ethnicity in the Census here.[15]

Recent news

This section displays the most recent stories in a Google news search for the terms "Governor Hawaii."

Some of the stories below may not be relevant to this page due to the nature of Google's news search engine.

Governor of Hawaii - Google News Feed

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Contact information

Constituent Services
State Capitol, Room 415
Honolulu, Hawaii 96813
Phone: (808) 586-0221 or (808) 586-0222
Fax: (808) 586-0019

Governor's Office
Phone: 808 586-0034
Fax: 808 586-0006

See also

External links