David Ige’s Action Plan: “Engineering Hawaii’s Future”
From Ige Campaign
I am running for Governor because Hawaiʻi needs a new style of leadership. Hawaii needs leadership that brings us together instead of divides us. Hawaiʻi needs leadership that moves us forward collectively instead of favoring special interests. Hawaiʻi needs leadership that delivers results and is willing to be held accountable for its actions.
The Ige administration will address the many issues facing our state in a direct and forthright manner. I will collaborate with our federal and county partners and with the Legislature to serve all of the people of our state. We will spend public funds thoughtfully and without waste to avoid raising taxes. We will make state government more efficient, especially in the procurement of goods and services and the hiring of personnel. We will conduct government affairs openly and be visible to the public.
The Ige administration will not only strive to do the right thing, but do it the right way. My administration will be honest, transparent, accountable, and responsive to you. I will serve the public interest and not special interests. I will hold regular news conferences. I will have no hidden agendas.
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. When conflicts occur among diverse groups, my administration will hear all views and strive to find the best solution for all.
I will hold my appointees to a high standard of transparency and accessibility to assure the public that there are no conflicts of interest. If I were Governor I would have immediately signed SB 2682, which requires members of 15 state boards and commissions to publicly disclose their financial interests. Many of these boards and commissions make major expenditure decisions, and the public must be assured that these decisions are made in the public interest. The current Governor initially threatened to veto the bill, then reluctantly allowed it to become law without his signature. Instead, Hawaiʻi’s Governor should have taken a strong stand for transparency in government.
My administration will honor and respect our Native Hawaiian culture, customs and practices.
This is my commitment to the people of Hawaiʻi.
The Ige Action Agenda
State government needs to work more like a business by consistently delivering results on time and within budget. As an electrical engineer in private business, I manage project teams that must deliver results that meet customer requirements. If we don’t deliver results, we don’t get paid and our clients are free to choose someone else. I bring this perspective to State government, which needs to be agile and efficient, innovative in developing solutions, adaptable to a rapidly changing environment, and above all, accountable to our “customers,” the people of Hawaiʻi.
We must take care of business first. As Governor, I will submit a balanced budget to the Legislature. As the Chair of the Senate Ways and Means Committee for the past four years I crafted a balanced budget in each of those years. During that time I reduced the current Governor’s spending proposals by a total of $1 billion. That is why the State now enjoys an $800 million surplus.
I also rejected the current Governor’s proposal to tax retirees’ pensions. I refused to balance the budget on the backs of seniors. In addition, I rejected his proposals to tax soda and plastic bags, as well as his attempts to raise the Transient Accommodations Tax (TAT) by an additional 2%. This would have raised the cost of a Hawaiʻi vacation for tourists, making Hawaiʻi less competitive among visitor destinations throughout the world. My philosophy in budgeting is that the State must operate within its means instead of raising taxes. I will not propose new programs when our state budget lacks the resources to pay for them.
Tax backlog. Another way to balance our budget is to collect taxes owed. Currently a total of $450 million is owed to the State in back taxes. Rather than raising taxes, I will secure the necessary resources for the State Department of Taxation to collect these back taxes.
I will implement the Tax Department modernization project, which would result in a significant increase in additional tax collections – as much as $500 million, by some estimates – in addition to the backlogged amounts.
My track record: I bring to the administration my strong fiscal and management background.
- Over the past five years, I led passage of legislation to implement a long-range plan to ensure the solvency of the State retirement system and health benefits trust fund, which provide pension and health care benefits to current and future State government retirees. Hawaiʻi is the first state to enact such a plan.
- Using technology to increase efficiency and reduce waste and costs, I spearheaded the State Senate Paperless Initiative, which reduced paper consumption in the Senate by 85 percent.
Tourism is the single largest component of our economy, and I will do all that I can to support and grow our visitor industry. The value of tourism to our economy cannot be overstated. It brings billions of dollars into the economy and provides thousands of jobs.
The net value of Federal spending in Hawaiʻi – the difference between the amount of taxes we send to Washington, D.C. and receive in spending – has declined every year under the current Governor. As Governor, I will work with our Congressional delegation to reverse this trend.
As an electrical engineer in private business for 35 years, I know first-hand that Hawaiʻi has the potential to become the premier telecommunications center of the Pacific. We will develop a new information industry in Hawaiʻi, bringing with it business opportunities and high paying jobs with minimal environmental impacts.
A sterling example of how technology can improve our community is the success of Waianae High School’s Searider Productions, a multi-media program originally founded in 1986 with the support of legislative funding which I helped obtain, along with private grants and federal assistance. Many of its graduates went on to college, gained professional work experience and went on to outstanding media careers. Their talents led to the founding of Mākaha Studios, an award-winning “for profit” video production and digital media company.
I will invest in strategic growth industries, such as information technology, clean energy, health care, and local agriculture.
Tourism Action Plan:
- Increase domestic and international visitor travel to all of our islands by working with commercial airlines to schedule more flights to Hawaiʻi. I will also work toward creating another international entry point at the Kona airport. This would relieve the federal Customs Service congestion at Honolulu International Airport and improve the arrival experience for foreign visitors.
- Work with our Congressional team to make it easier for international travelers to visit our islands by improving the visa issuance process in China, and through customs and immigration pre-clearance for visitors from Australia, New Zealand, Japan, and Korea to any of the Hawaiian Islands.
- Increase the hotel capacity and provide needed infrastructure improvements in all our counties. I will hold state departments accountable for expenditures of funds and completion of improvements.
- Work with the Hawaiʻi Convention Center to increase its use by more aggressively seeking corporate conferences and conventions.
My track record:
- I have continued to support the vital function of the Hawaiʻi Tourism Authority to promote Hawaii as a destination for vacations and conventions. I rejected the current Governor’s proposal to reduce the Hawaiʻi Tourism Authority’s marketing budget by $10 million in 2011.
- I helped direct funds to modernize our airports, harbors, and roads because it is the welcoming face we show to incoming visitors and make a lasting impression.
Technology Action Plan:
- Attract technology firms by developing incentives for technology development, along with support systems to facilitate innovation and entrepreneurship.
- Develop partnerships with organizations such as the University of Hawaiʻi, the East-West Center, the Hawaiʻi Strategic Development Corporation, and the High Technology Development Corporation to establish Hawaiʻi i as the innovation center of the Pacific.
- Facilitate the availability of risk/venture capital for entrepreneurs and innovators in strategic growth industries, such as information technology, health care, energy and local agriculture.
- Implement state-of-the art technology to enable State agencies to do their jobs more efficiently and effectively. For example, instead of encouraging filing online, the State Tax Department charges taxpayers a fee. As a result, many tax returns are filed by mail and opened by hand, resulting in a substantial backlog in processing tax returns, delays in investing the tax revenue, and unrealized interest revenue to the State.
My track record:
- I co-authored the Hawaiʻi Telecommunications and Information Industries Act, which created a statewide microwave telecommunications network and statewide information network as the gateway for all public and private information providers. All of Hawaii’s residents have access to this network, which provides information services, interactive videotext services, and toll-free dial-up service.
- I led the effort to connect all public schools to the Internet, resulting in Hawaiʻi becoming one of the first states to do so.
- I established the Hawaiʻi Strategic Development Corporation, which provides venture capital and supports new businesses and start-ups.
- I supported the High Technology Development Corporation in implementing programs such as incubation facilities, including the Manoa Innovation Center and the Maui Research & Technology Center, and software development.
- I supported the development of the Technology Transfer Programs at the University of Hawaiʻi to link UH research discoveries to technology-based start-up companies.
Improving public education is one of my top priorities. I will reform the public education system to empower individual schools so that teachers and school principals make the decisions on curriculum and instruction, educational programs, and expenditure of school funds. Those closest to the students understand best how their students should be educated. The Board of Education, which is appointed by the Governor, has failed to provide the leadership that empowers individual schools. As a result, student performance does not attain maximum potential.
I support early childhood education but I am opposed to the proposed constitutional amendment that allows taxpayer dollars to be spent on private preschools. The constitutional amendment is ill-conceived because it asks voters to approve a preschool program that gives your tax dollars to private entities that admittedly lack the capacity to admit all eligible children and are not located in areas of greatest need. Even though tax dollars would go to private schools, there are no cost estimates, no details of how the program will work, and no indication that all children will have an equal opportunity to enroll in a private preschool.
As Governor, I would allocate those tax dollars to the Department of Education and task the DOE to implement early education, starting in the areas of greatest need.
As a proud product of public schools, education created great opportunities for me that I would not have had otherwise. Hawaiʻi’s children deserve quality public education that provides an opportunity for all students to achieve their highest potential. Quality public education also creates a workforce with the skills and knowledge that are necessary for a strong economy.
Education Action Plan:
- The greatest proportion of funding for education should be spent at the school level in order to maximize the effectiveness of our education dollars. I will work to increase weighted student formula spending at the school level to 75% of our education funding, from the current 58% level.
- Reform our “top-down” bureaucracy so that the system supports our schools, rather than the other way around.
- I will increase funding that supports school-initiated, innovative approaches to education. The current system is a compliance-driven bureaucracy that stifles creativity and innovation.
- Appoint individuals to the Board of Education who have a stake in the system’s success, including those with children in public schools.
- Create a system that provides financial incentives for effective principals to remain at their schools instead of seeking promotions to larger schools or to the central office for higher pay.
My track record:
- My record of commitment to education is reflected in the following:
- Drafted and introduced Hawaiʻi’s first Charter School legislation that led to the start of “Student Centered Schools,” which would later become known as Charter Schools
- Helped initiate the “let’s get wired program,” which connected public school students to the Internet, making Hawaiʻi one of the first states in the country to do so
- Helped create the first Hawaiian language immersion program in the public schools to perpetuate the Hawaiian language and teach Hawaiian history and culture
- Played a key role in enacting legislation that allowed “home school” learning to become an accepted and recognized method of education.
4. HEALTH CARE
Health care should be organized around the principle of delivering quality care in a cost-effective manner. Physicians, hospitals, and other health care providers should be supported and encouraged to deliver care based on this organizing principle.
Hawaiʻi has one of the highest rates of health care insurance coverage in the nation due to our employer-mandated health care insurance law, the Prepaid Health Care Act. In Hawaiʻi, 93 percent of all residents have health care insurance. I will focus on securing coverage for the remainder of the population.
I will seek to correct an error of the current Governor, who failed to request regulatory flexibility for the requirements of the federal Affordable Care Act that weaken Hawaiʻi’s Prepaid Health Care Law. Our Hawaiʻi Health Connector received a $205 million grant from the federal government, but has been a disaster. The current Governor appointed the Connector’s Board, but he failed to put together a team that could effectively design and implement it. The Connector has had major problems from the beginning. It was unworkable on the day it was scheduled to start, and, nine months later, the Connector has enrolled less than 1 percent of the population. There are better alternatives to covering Hawaiʻi’s uninsured residents.
Health Action Plan:
- Shift the focus of health care toward providing quality health care that is affordable to all of Hawaiʻi’s residents through patient-centered medical homes, community outreach teams, and quality improvement initiatives.
- Improve access to medical education by expanding student loan forgiveness programs to graduates who commit to work in areas that face health care practitioner shortages
My track record: I led passage of legislation that:
- Ensures continued community-based primary care for the uninsured, underinsured, or Medicaid recipients by helping the community health center system to remain financially viable and stable in the face of the increasing needs of these populations (Act 8, 2008)
- Required home care agencies to be licensed for the health, safety and welfare of clients, which overrode the governor’s veto (Act 21, 2009)
- Protected Neighbor Island hospitals by prohibiting planned substantial reduction or elimination of direct patient care services at any facility unless an initial determination is made that critical and emergency services will not be reduced or eliminated (Act 182, 2009 became law without governor’s signature)
- Increased healthcare access by establishing telemedicine for licensed physicians to care for patients (Act 20 became law without the governor’s signature, 2009)
The Ige Administration will support our growing senior population and their families. By 2030 nearly 25 percent of Hawaiʻi’s population will be 65 years of age or older. Hawaiʻi has the fastest growing senior population in the country so we must start now to ensure we are prepared to meet the needs of older persons. We will seek to help kupuna remain as independent as possible so they can continue to live in their homes rather than in an institution. This will enable our kupuna to age in place with dignity, and with love and support from their families and communities.
Hawaiʻi is rooted in caring. We cherish our kupuna and value all that they have given us. They have laid the groundwork for what we have and have been able to achieve today. They have modeled honesty, trust, and pride of work that forms the foundation of our culture. We owe them our gratitude, and we will demonstrate that with action.
Seniors’ Action Plan:
- The 2014 Legislature provided $9 million for Kupuna Care – double the amount requested by the Governor – but this does not meet the huge demand for services, like meal delivery, transportation, and respite services for caregivers. Legislation enacted this year expands eligibility for Kupuna Care to Medicaid recipients, although Medicaid recipients already qualify for similar services, and expanding eligibility makes a small pot of money even smaller. As Governor, I will propose legislation that ensures Medicaid recipients receive services equivalent to those available through Kupuna Care.
- My family is among the quarter-million family caregivers in Hawaiʻi, as we are looking after my mother. One of the major shortcomings in our health system is the lack of training for caregivers when their loved ones are discharged from the hospital. It makes common sense and also financial sense, because when patients have to return to hospitals soon after their discharge because of failure of caregivers to adequately tend to their needs, hospitals are penalized by Medicare. Unlike our present governor, I will propose – and actively lobby for – legislation to provide caregivers with needed training to care for their loved ones when they are discharged from hospitals
- Expedite establishing Aging and Disability Resource Centers in each county. These centers provide kupuna and their families with a single point of entry to receive information about long-term care provided by a multitude of agencies, public and private
- Work with the City and County of Honolulu – and eventually other counties – along with the AARP to help Hawaiʻi become the first age-friendly state in the nation by meeting guidelines established by the World Health Organization (WHO) on outdoor spaces and buildings, transportation, housing, social participation, social inclusion, and health services.
- Coordinate acute medical care with long-term care so that there is collaboration and coordination of both systems.
My track record: To address challenges faced by our seniors and their families, I supported the following bills that are now in law:
- Act 241, which requires the State Department of Human Services to apply to the federal Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services to allow Medicaid funds for nursing home care to be used for care to remain at home
- Act 93, which formally established the Office of the Long-Term Care Ombudsman to resolve long-term care issues.
- Act 11, which extended the joint legislative committee on family caregiving and expanded its responsibilities.
My administration will be proactive in preserving and protecting Hawaiʻi’s fragile natural environment for future generations. We can have both a healthy environment and responsible economic growth through comprehensive planning that engages environmental interests, development interests, and other community interests.
Environment Action Plan:
- Direct the newly-created Pacific-Asia Institute for Resilience and Sustainability, which I helped enact, to mitigate risks from natural and man-made hazards, as well as to develop solutions for sustainable economic growth and adaptive plans for climate change
- Move for implementation of Department of Health rules that will reduce greenhouse gas emissions. I will also work with businesses and the community to implement those rules. Hawaiʻi can and must be a role model for environmental stewardship and clean energy.
- Increase funding to control the damage by invasive species through prevention, control, and outreach activities. An immediate action will be to step up the inspection of baggage and cargo for invasive species.
- Provide funding to protect Hawaiʻi’s watersheds to ensure a continuous supply of clean drinking water for all.
My track record: My record reflects my commitment to protecting our natural resources and for community participation:
- Developed an innovative plan to fund the $40 million needed to preserve lands around Turtle Bay.
- Helped repeal the Public Lands Development Corporation (PLDC) because it went too far in exempting itself from land use and zoning regulations and did not adequately consider community input.
- Initiated a community task force to plan for transit-oriented development on State lands surrounding future Oahu rail stations.
- Provided $19.5 million for the State purchase of Lipoa Point on Maui, a 280-acre site rich in marine resources, historical and archeological sites and a popular recreation area.
Renewable energy can be as significant for Hawaiʻi’s economy as tourism. We are blessed with abundant renewable energy resources—solar, wind, ocean, geothermal– that can be the foundation for a robust alternate energy industry. We can also reduce Hawaiʻi’s $6 billion a year dependence on imported oil and instead, keep funds here while creating new jobs in the process.
We must provide more options for customers to manage their electricity bills and to reduce cost by ensuring that all electricity customers have the opportunity to benefit from clean energy policies. I believe we can be a model of clean energy for the nation –and even the world– but we need the right kind of leadership. Unfortunately, the current approach to energy planning and implementation has been fragmented and short-sighted. The current State administration has adopted goals and targets, but it does not have a comprehensive plan to bring citizens, government agencies, utilities, and community agencies together.
Energy Action Plan:
- Direct, and adequately staff the Hawaiʻi State Energy Office to work with all relevant parties to plan and execute policies and programs to develop a clean energy industry in Hawaiʻi, including training and hiring a strong local workforce
- Work with key stakeholders to address and overcome the challenges in meeting more aggressively our Hawaiʻi Clean Energy Initiative goals and targets by modernizing the electrical grid, determining the proper mix of fuels at affordable cost, and working with the counties to reduce fossil fuel use in ground transportation.
- Ensure adequacy of staff and independence of the Public Utilities Commission to make timely and sound decisions that will afford reliable and affordable electricity to benefit ratepayers.
- Support state-of-the-art technology that increases the allowable amount of distributed generation and power sharing between consumers, and enabling installation of rooftop solar systems
- Create programs and incentives to increase clean energy production in Hawaiʻi.
My track record: My understanding of Hawaiʻi’s energy issues has been informed by my training and experience as an engineer. Based on this understanding, I have:
- Supported regulatory policies to accelerate the implementation of clean energy goals.
- Helped provide funding for research and development of renewable energy resources
- Led the establishment of an energy and food security and self-sufficiency fund, funded from the fuel tax, for energy security, environmental response, energy systems development, and agricultural development and food security
- Supported the Public Utilities Commission (PUC) through staffing, funding, and restructuring, giving it more independence and flexibility to enable it to better address Hawaiʻi’s energy issues and to ensure that the public interest is served.
Agriculture is critical to self-sufficiency and food security. Instead of continuing to import 90% of our food, we need to take steps to produce more food locally. However, under the current administration, more than 2,000 acres of irrigated, prime agricultural land have been taken out of cultivation, and the number of farmers has declined. We are committed to making farming and local food production a thriving industry.
Agriculture Action Plan:
- Develop a long-range plan to increase the local food production from the current 10% to at least 20% by the end of the decade. The plan will also include the identification of lands for the production of flowers and nursery products, for raising livestock, and for developing bio-fuels. This plan will be used to guide decisions for irrigation and other infrastructure.
- Provide more low-interest loans to farmers and ranchers
- Identify and preserve up to 200,000 acres of prime agricultural land to increase food production.
- Establish agricultural parks statewide to accommodate small family farms.
- Improve the monitoring of transported agricultural goods to prevent the introduction of invasive species.
- Ensure sufficient funding for state pesticide officers who monitor, regulate, and enforce the use of restricted-use pesticides in order to protect the health and welfare of our residents.
- Work with our Congressional delegation to enact a federal law to require GMO labeling. The public has the right to know what they are consuming, but there is a need for consistency across states that only the federal government can ensure. A federal law will avoid hurting local farmers, food manufacturers and distributors, who would incur added costs of complying with a state labeling law.I would support a state GMO labeling law only if there were no adverse economic impacts on local farmers, food manufacturers and distributors.
My track record: I have supported farmers and agricultural diversification that puts land into crops, produce, livestock and biofuel such as funding for the following:
- $750,000 for loans to farmers growing food locally
- $5.5 million for watershed protection (to be executed by the Department of Land & Natural Resources (DLNR))
- $26 million for irrigation systems, rivers and dams, including $1.1 million for the Hanalei River breach (to be executed by DLNR)
9. AFFORDABLE HOUSING AND HOMELESSNESS
Homelessness has reached a near-crisis level in our Islands. The homeless issue and its solutions are complex because the homeless population is diverse. It includes families with children, the elderly, victims of domestic abuse, the disabled, veterans, unemployed or underemployed workers, and individuals with mental illness or victims of substance abuse. Each group has different needs.
Homelessness strains the resources of our communities. It hurts when we cannot use sidewalks, public parks and recreation areas because the homeless population is living in these public spaces. It hurts tourism and other businesses. Furthermore, we must recognize that many families across the state are only a few missed paychecks away from homelessness. We can do better as a modern civilized society to help the least fortunate among us so they can be guided back to economic self-sufficiency and have their dignity restored.
To aid working families who cannot afford to own a home and struggle to pay rent, a significant expansion of affordable rental housing is needed in both urban and rural areas across the state. I support the decision of the 2014 Legislature to increase funding for the Rental Housing Trust Fund, which partners with private builders to build subsidized housing.
Affordable Housing Action Plan:
- Leverage additional State funding to attract more private investment to construct more affordable housing.
- Identify and develop vacant and underutilized State lands for affordable housing near Oahu rail stations, public transportation and employment centers, and, whenever possible, include daycare, senior centers, and community facilities as part of new affordable housing sites
- Work with the counties to expedite planning and construction approvals so that affordable rental housing can be built in a shorter time and at lower cost.
- Build more affordable housing units in Kaka’ako, which is fully under State control. It provides a unique opportunity to generate new affordable housing. More than 5,000 housing units have been approved in Kaka’ako recently, but less than seven percent are affordable to the lower half of our population. I will reverse this trend and generate housing in Kaka’ako affordable to families earning below the median wage.
- Upgrade and increase public housing. Our State public housing needs to be managed and operated by qualified non-profit and private companies so tenant issues are immediately addressed, facilities are properly maintained, and units added that are targeted for low income seniors and those with special needs.
Homelessness Action Plan:
- Collaborate with and support the counties’ efforts to address homelessness. I support the Housing First initiative, which provides transitional and permanent supportive emergency housing. It also offers referral services for mental illness, addiction, job training and other social services.
- Continue to support homeless shelters that provide immediate physical and mental health relief for homeless individuals and families. Shelters provide the first step toward permanent rental housing and job market re-entry.
- Help our homeless military veteran population with affordable housing and support services and improve coordination with the Veterans Administration. Support the judiciary’s Hawaii Veterans Treatment Court, which began last year, to help veterans arrested for non-violent crimes and who may be suffering from PTSD, mental health problems or substance abuse with resources and treatment needed to get healthy, employed and acclimated back into society.
- Support paying return travel costs for persons who moved here from the mainland under the mistaken belief that they could afford to live here, then exhausted their resources, and now wish to return home
10. COUNTY PARTNERSHIPS
Our counties have provided leadership on a number of fronts, such as homelessness, transportation, clean energy, and affordable housing. I believe the State must support their efforts. I will work with counties to evaluate their roles and responsibilities to eliminate duplication of effort, and consider the increased sharing of State resources with them. For example, the counties have begun multi-modal transportation efforts but funding for implementation remains limited. I will help secure additional resources for these county initiatives.
Improved communication between State and counties can reduce public inconvenience, such as when the State Department of Transportation recently failed to coordinate its H-1 freeway closures with the City and County of Honolulu, so many routes were simultaneously closed for construction and repair work. As a result, people spent many extra hours unnecessarily stuck in traffic.
11. OPEN GOVERNMENT
Our democratic form of government requires active citizen participation. My administration will work hard to earn your trust by creating a process of two-way communication. State government will share information with the public and listen to public concerns and ideas.
- Hold weekly press conferences to make myself accessible to the media.
- Require my department directors to be accessible and hold at least four community meetings a year, including visits to the Neighbor Islands.
- Work with the Board of Education to ensure that meetings are held in all counties and after the school day, allowing school administrators, teachers, students and parents to participate in meetings and have input in board policy.
- Increase community involvement in government affairs by directing all agencies and commissions to consider input from the public as essential to their decision-making. To make participation more convenient for the public and cost-effective, I will increase interactive video teleconferencing on issues of interest to the public.
- Ensure that appointments to State boards and commissions are broadly representative of community interests and that appointees are committed to conducting government affairs in an open manner, responsive to the public.