Top priorities to move Hawai‘i ahead in the next four years
“To restore the public’s faith in government, we must demonstrate daily that we are getting the job done on their behalf. On my watch, I will not stand for projects to be left to drift or problems to be swept under the carpet. From priority setting, to management, to results, we must do more, because Hawai‘i deserves better.”
These are my top priorities to move Hawai‘i ahead in the next four years.
Faster action on affordable housing.
Our affordable housing deﬁcit has grown for decades despite campaign promises and housing programs that have come and gone. I will take an active role to create and subsidize affordable housing and streamline processes to allow our construction industry to build homes more quickly. I will work swiftly to implement the Legislature’s newly-passed “Bob Nakata Act,” which provides $570 million toward generating 25,000 affordable units we need by the year 2030. I will move forward on transit-oriented development, fast-tracking housing starts around stations being constructed along the 20-mile rail line. And I will stop the short-sighted practice of selling state rental housing for families and seniors to developers.
Greater leadership to address homelessness.
I will not allow us to hide behind dubious statistics that say homelessness is getting better, when our own eyes tell us it’s not. The state must actively lead in addressing homelessness statewide. While there are no easy answers, doing nothing – or doing the same things over and over again – will only make the problem worse. We must draw on the successes achieved in other states and cities, and do so in partnership with the counties, non-governmental organizations and non-proﬁts. I applaud the state Legislature for thinking more innovatively, committing $30 million toward ‘ohana zones – where homeless can be safely sheltered and receive the services they need. We cannot just keep chasing the problem from park to park, underpass to underpass and neighborhood to neighborhood.
More support for public education.
One of our greatest responsibilities is the education of our future generations and workforce. We must support public education and Hawai‘i’s teachers, from our elementary schools to our trade schools and universities. Micromanaging only impedes progress, and we must reach beyond a small clique of advisors. We need accurate measurements to make informed decisions. That requires transparency so we measure where we are succeeding and where we are falling short. I will grow our educator workforce, from pre-school teachers to university professors. And I want to dramatically expand the quality and scope of early childhood education.
Living wages for everyone.
Hawai‘i families need jobs with living wages so they can afford to stay in Hawai‘i. It’s not enough to have a strong economy if it’s not shared by all. We need to expand our economy with jobs that can become careers and pay salaries and wages that combat the high cost of living and improve the lives of our workers and their families. We must look at how we pay our workers to ensure we are being fair and that our workers and their families can afford the basic necessities to remain stable and self-sufﬁcient, without jeopardizing small business owners. We can do both.
Improve our airports, highways and harbors.
These are the essential transportation lifelines that connect people and businesses to each other and the world. Our highways must be improved to connect our communities and sustain the growth of our economy. Our airports must be ﬁrst-class facilities that support our largest industry. Our harbors must be modernized to lower the cost of goods to our residents and businesses. We have long-standing Airport Modernization Plans, Harbor Modernization Plans and a backlog of millions of federal dollars to spend on highways. I will work closely with the federal government, the legislature and the private sector to put these plans and dollars to work quickly.
Facing future challenges of health care.
Our state is fortunate to have one of the highest rates of healthcare coverage under our Hawai‘i Prepaid Health Care Act. But we are falling behind in adjusting to the dramatic changes in both the nature and delivery of health care and coverage. I will ﬁght to protect the Prepaid Health Care Act from any attempts to undermine it. The Legislature’s Affordable Health Insurance Working Group’s report should be public record and discussed in an open forum, as well as Hawai‘i’s critical ERISA exemption. We must also ﬁnd ways to protect and improve healthcare for Hawai‘i’s kupuna, keiki and veterans, and fund programs that recognize the needs of these vulnerable populations.
Restoring leadership and trust in government.
Finally, I promise to manage our state with consistency, competence and clarity. I will not tell leaders on both sides of an issue that they have my support. I will not propose budgets that lawmakers call “schizophrenic,” or have them tell me I need to go back to the drawing board. My budgets and actions will reﬂect the priorities of our administration, and taxpayers can hold me personally accountable for our ﬁscal discipline and how my administration manages the affairs of state. Making government more transparent and accessible will be a top priority, a task I will approach with passion, urgency and leadership.