The Governor's State of the State Address: 5 Things We Can Agree On, 5 Areas for Improvement
News Release from Hawaii House Republican Caucus, January 25, 2016
HONOLULU – Today, Gov. David Ige delivered his annual State of the State Address. While the Minority Caucus can agree with the governor on many things, there are also issues that still need to be addressed.
5 Things We Can Agree On
1. We Need More Affordable Housing
The state is far behind in meeting our affordable housing needs. We’ve proposed several measures to encourage more affordable housing, including more options for individual units and removing the cap for the Rental Housing Revolving Fund. The Minority Caucus also supports sustainable maintenance of existing housing options to avoid costly situations like the Mayor Wright Homes lawsuit.
2. Tax Modernization is Important
Better technology ensures that we collect the taxes the state is owed under the current rates, allowing for more effective budgeting and planning. It also provides needed relief in returning tax refunds to those who need it in a timelier manner.
3. Heat Abatement Needs to be Addressed
The problems with heat abatement in our schools has been a subject discussion for years. The Minority Caucus proposes a tax credit for private entities installing solar energy units in schools along with greater flexibility for principals in infrastructure development projects.
4. We Need to Aggressively Pay Down Unfunded Liabilities
We need to be aggressive in paying down our state's debts and unfunded liabilities before we start looking to new spending. It's a costly expenditure, but something the state needs to take seriously.
5. The Government Should Follow the Law
The process matters, and the government is not above the law. It is accountable to the people it represents. The better the government is at meeting its obligations, the less waste there will be.
5 Areas for Improvement
1. Cost-of-Living and Tax Relief for Middle and Low Income Families
Living in Hawaii is very expensive, and wages haven’t been increasing in tandem with the cost-of-living. This makes the working poor vulnerable to ending up on the streets. The Minority Caucus proposed income tax reductions for those who most need it, and exempting necessities like food and Section 8 rentals from the GET.
2. Structural Changes to Departments to Speed Up Operations
It's good that the Department of Transportation reduced its backlog of projects funded by federal money. However, we didn't hear anything about the changes made to the bureaucracy, or changes that still need to be made, that caused the problem in the first place.
3. Systemic Problems that Discourage an Innovative Economy
We agree that diversifying our economy needs to be done and will provide the state with better economic security. However, providing money for businesses won't be enough. We also need to address our tax structure and the education of our workforce, systemic issues that can keep businesses away.
4. We Need Better Mental Health Facilities, But We Also Need Staff
We support building a forensic mental health facility. But adequate staffing is also an issue, and we addressed both in our package. And on a broader level, we need to address mental health needs earlier, in schools and in the criminal justice system, by putting more resources toward better assessing mental health needs on the front end. This would relieve overcrowding at the State Hospital and free up spaces for civil commitment patients.
5. Public Safety Needs More Attention
While a new, updated prison facility is needed and can provide cost savings, the budget is limited and it may be a lower priority than addressing the systemic problems that can lead to criminal behavior and recidivism in the first place. In addition to addressing poverty, we need to effectively fund our statutorily mandated re-entry program and offer opportunities to keep people out of prison as opposed to creating more space to keep them in. Also, the security at our public buildings is lacking, something we proposed initiatives to address.
The House Minority Caucus is comprised of Minority Leader Beth Fukumoto Chang, Minority Floor Leader Feki Pouha, Minority Leader Emeritus Rep. Gene Ward, Minority Whip Rep. Lauren Cheape Matsumoto, Assistant Minority Leader Rep. Bob McDermott, and Assistant Minority Floor Leader Rep. Cynthia Thielen, and Minority Policy Leader Andria P.L. Tupola.
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The Hawaii Senate Minority Top 5 Issues for 2016
News Release from Office of Sen Sam Slom
Each session, the Hawaii Senate Minority introduces a legislative package supporting economic development and tax reform. We serve on every senate committee, hearing thousands of bills vying to become law. We speak out for people across our state against over regulation and for greater fiscal responsibility.
Our top issue is summed up in a single word: accountability. We must do a better job of penalizing waste and poor performance. We must stop funding new programs before finishing what we’ve started. We must regain the trust of the citizens who’ve paid billions for failed projects while sewers and roads crumble. To read more, click here
The Hawaii Health Connector died of management incompetence – but only after squandering nearly $150M without actually improving healthcare. Now, we’re scrambling to save Hawaii’s successful Prepaid Healthcare Act of 1974 – the nation’s best, cheapest and most successful healthcare program for more than 40 years. To read more, click here
The new normal is another $200M in cost overruns and more threatened tax hikes to fund the rail to nowhere. Now, the media says that polls show “the majority” of Oahu residents want the project. We’re wondering who they asked, since our choices are more G.E.T. surcharge extensions or higher property taxes. Does that sound good?
To read more, click here
With 40-year-old computers running functions like state tax and payroll systems, we could use an upgrade. But we have a history of project failures totaling hundreds of millions.
To read more, click here
The State claims to use tax dollars to create new businesses and more jobs. But existing Hawaii businesses suffer under one of the nation’s highest and most regressive tax systems and what many studies call the most hostile business environment in the country.
The Hawaii Senate Minority plans to introduce legislation to boost local businesses – so they can create new jobs, afford to pay better wages and become more competitive.
To read more, click here
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JACI AGUSTIN ON GOVERNOR IGE’S STATE OF THE STATE ADDRESS
News Release from Candidate Jaci Agustin
Candidate for Hawaii State House District 34 (Waimalu, Pearl City, Pacific Palisades), Jaci Agustin commented on today’s State of the State address by Governor David Ige.
“As a proponent of cooling our Keiki and classrooms, I appreciate that Governor Ige stated that he is willing to work with anyone in Hawaii to support this endeavor,” Agustin said about the Governor’s proposal to cool 1,000 classrooms this next fiscal year.
Governor Ige proposed in his speech that $100 million to pay for cooling installation will come from the Green Energy Market Securitization Program (GEMS). Although this would retrofit only 8% of the 11,700 classrooms, in the 256 schools in the state, Agustin is encouraged that solutions are being brought forth to this health and public safety issue.
The Department of Education has estimated in the past that the cost to retrofit all DOE classrooms with upgraded electrical infrastructure, heat abatement technology and air conditioning would be $1.7 billion.
“Although this is the start to solving the problem of hot classrooms, the vast majority of students in the state will still endure uncomfortable, unsafe conditions in the upcoming school year.” Agustin added, To address this, Agustin is again calling on the Hawaii State Board of Education to revise the academic calendar next year for classes to start after Labor Day. This last year, despite an outcry from parents, teachers and students, the Board of Education chose a calendar in the 2016-2017 academic year to again start in July - the hottest month of the year in Hawaii.
“Until we can get all the classrooms cooled, for the sake of our Keiki, we must look at solutions that help promote good academic achievement for all of Hawaii’s students. That is why I still advocate for a later start to the school year.” said Agustin.
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Today State Representative McDermott issued the following statement regarding Governor Ige's state of the state speech:
News Release from Rep Bob McDermott
The Governor is a very nice man who dwells in the minutia of government and governing; topics like the drinking water fund, the monitoring of tax cheats, and spending federal money on time are all housekeeping issues that the population expects us to execute in the normal course of business.
The vision as to where our state is going is what was lacking; a clarion vision laid out is what this mob of a legislature needs, otherwise you have 76 independent fiefdoms operating with no coherent strategy to move the state forward. The speech was underwhelming with no common theme or uniting purpose. Weak Sauce.
No vision, only the regurgitation of a housekeeping list. The one bright note in the speech was the innovative solution for the implementation of air condition in a 1000 classrooms by 2017; that was welcome news to this Campbell High School Parent.
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