My Full Platform For Hawaii
“It is time for us to rise up and face the challenges facing Hawaiʻi. That requires bold leadership, decisiveness, action and visionary thinking. I will bring new perspectives to old issues, an unparalleled passion and energy for public service and a commitment to results that will transform our state for the better. Now is the time to invest in a brighter and better future for Hawai‘i.”
During my time in the Hawai‘i State Senate (1998 through 2010), including my service as Senate President (Hawai‘i’s first woman Senate President), my time as Chair of the Honolulu Authority for Rapid Transportation (HART) and for nearly six years as the U.S. Representative for Hawai‘i’s First Congressional District, I focused on providing the people of Hawai‘i with strong leadership, measurable results and a vision for a better future backed up by the will to make it happen.
With your support, as your governor, I will focus on the following result-oriented goals:
- Implement a living wage that enables workers to achieve financial independence while maintaining housing, healthcare and food security, as well as freeing up resources for long-term financial security and stability;
- Provide a solid educational foundation for our keiki, where they can flourish regardless of economic status, gender, ethnicity or location in the islands. Grow and retain our professional educator workforce, modernize our schools and expand early childhood education;
- Fast-track housing, with an emphasis on affordable housing tailored to the needs and desires of specific communities (e.g., seniors, millennials, young families, transit-oriented);
- Implement best practices to eliminate the root causes and factors that lead to homelessness while helping those homeless in Hawai‘i find housing through a full continuum of resources, from ‘ohana zones, to shelters, to transitional facilities, to permanent housing;
- Protect, preserve and improve Hawai‘i’s lead in healthcare;
- Fulfill our commitments to our Veterans by giving back to those who have sacrificed and given so much of themselves to others, our state and our nation;
- Honor our kūpuna and millennials, who make up the largest percentages of our population, with representation in my Cabinet, where my leadership team and I can work with them on their collective desires, needs and concerns;
- Provide kūpuna, seniors, and elders with the services resources and support they need to remain healthy, independent, safe and connected to their loved ones in Hawai‘i;
- Fulfill Hawai‘i’s commitments to our Native Hawaiian community;
- Accelerate Hawai‘i’s clean energy goals by delivering energy that is cleaner, safer, healthier, and more cost efficient, with annual metrics and accountability on the path to 100-percent renewable energy prior to 2045;
- Prioritize Hawai‘i’s infrastructure … modernizing its airports, highways and harbors; and
- Restore confidence in government with a laser-like focus on Hawai‘i’s future … no more hesitation, delay and lack of result-oriented leadership at the top.
Hawai‘i cannot afford another four years of status quo. We need new ideas, new priorities, a focus on results and a commitment to diversify Hawai‘i’s economy now.
We must also restore faith in our government’s ability to shape a better future for its residents, businesses and future generations. This is a principle I hold dear and inviolate and for which I will be accountable as your governor.
I am committed to the people of Hawai‘i, our culture, values and traditions and I will work with you, hand-in-hand, to bring about better results. I humbly ask for your support of my candidacy for governor.
Table of Contents
- Strong leadership with a clear vision for the future
- Implement a living wage
- Provide a solid educational foundation for our keiki
- Fast-track housing with an emphasis on affordable housing
- Eliminate the conditions and factors that lead to homelessness while assisting the homeless
- Protect, preserve and improve Hawai’i’s lead in healthcare
- Fulfill our commitments to our veterans
- Kūpuna and millennial participation in my cabinet
- Provide kūpuna, seniors and elders with the services, resources and support they need
- Fulfill our commitments to native Hawaiians
- Accelerate Hawai‘i’s clean energy goals
- Prioritize Hawai‘i’s state infrastructure
- Restore confidence in government
STRONG LEADERSHIP WITH A CLEAR VISION FOR THE FUTURE
Hawaiʻi is at a crossroads. Families, college graduates, young professionals, seniors and more are leaving Hawaiʻi to build their futures or make their homes elsewhere. They see opportunities on the Mainland they don’t see in Hawaiʻi. It’s a sad statement of our reality, but it doesn’t have to be that way.
Hawaiʻi’s potential for sustainable growth and economic diversity is great. In fact, a strong diversified economy benefits everyone. But to realize that potential, we need new result-oriented leadership guided by a clear vision of who we are as a state and what we have to offer. We need confidence and purposeful leadership – a commitment to impact our communities for the better.
Unfortunately, right now, the state is adrift and rudderless with a focus on action-oriented goals. We have become comfortable with being in a process instead of delivering results, and it shows. We simply cannot go on doing business this way. We can and must do better.
As your governor, I will change the way we do business in Hawaiʻi by focusing on results. I firmly believe our skilled and talented government workforce is primed and ready for new challenges, but they need leadership with purpose and inspiration from the top. I commit to be that strong leader and I commit to results that will restore your faith in our government.
IMPLEMENT A LIVING WAGE
A leadership plan must start with the basics. Economically, that means a workforce that is not financially challenged to meet their basic needs, especially when Hawaiʻi’s economy is statistically strong on paper. Yet that is exactly what is happening before our eyes.
In January 2018, Aloha United Way (AUW) released a report to “understand and raise awareness about the economic challenges faced by hardworking Hawaiʻi families and individuals.” That report, called “ALICE®” for “Asset Limited, Income Constrained, Employed,” confirmed what many of us suspected: The cost of living in Hawai‘i is one of the highest in our nation and, according to the AUW report, “48 percent of Hawai‘i households are ALICE and below,” meaning 37 percent are ALICE® while 11 percent actually live below the poverty level. ALICE populations are hardworking people “who have a job – or two or three – yet cannot afford basic necessities to remain stable and self-sufficient.” They struggle with a basic household budget that includes housing, child care, food, transportation, and healthcare. The fact is when our residents are impoverished or living paycheck-to-paycheck and challenged to cover the basic necessities of life, our communities suffer as well.
According to the AUW report, low-wage jobs dominate Hawaiʻi’s economy: “Sixty-two percent of all jobs in Hawai‘i pay less than $20 per hour, with more than two-thirds of those paying less than $15 per hour ($15 per hour full time = $30,000 per year). These jobs – especially service jobs that pay wages below $20 per hour and require a high school education or less – will grow far faster than higher-wage jobs over the next decade.”
By definition, a living wage is the amount of income needed for a decent standard of living above the federal poverty level (2015 Federal Poverty Level for Hawaiʻi is $13,550 for a single adult and $27,890 for a family of four). A living wage is typically more than the required minimum wage.
Starting in 2008, the Department of Business, Economic Development and Tourism (DBEDT) was required by statute to establish a self-sufficiency standard, with biennial updates, incorporating existing methods of calculation, and reflecting costs relating to housing, food, child care, transportation, health care, clothing and household expenses, taxes, children’s ages, geography, and the number of household wage earners. As but one example, in 2016, DBEDT calculated that a single adult with no children on O‘ahu needed to earn an hourly wage of $15.79 to meet his/her basic needs and be economically self-sufficient. The reality is the self-sufficiency standard calculated by DBEDT varies by county and the appropriate statewide living wage will be the product of informed policy decision making. By way of comparison, however, other jurisdictions have adopted a schedule that transitions to $15 an hour statewide over time.
Successfully implementing Hawaiʻi’s transition to a living wage will require credible data, stakeholder input (government, businesses, small businesses and non-profits), smart planning, informed decision making and leadership with vision. For example, Hawaiʻi will take steps to grow our high-paying job market by seizing on emerging technologies and innovation to support good-paying jobs for our workers and expanding apprenticeship programs to all sectors of our economy that need and lack well-established programs. Hawaiʻi will also blend classroom learning with worksite training programs to train workers to fill the jobs on the market. In addition, giving employers a role in curriculum development while working with employers to provide on-site experience should help ensure that those graduating from community colleges, technical schools, and other training programs have the skills and tools they need to get a job and succeed. These are just some ideas, but they demonstrate that government clearly has a role in making sure our future workers are educated and trained for higher-paying jobs.
PROVIDE A SOLID EDUCATIONAL FOUNDATION FOR OUR KEIKI
My focus as governor will be to provide a solid educational foundation for our children, one of the most effective ways to ensure their healthy economic future. Moreover, it’s a direct path to creating a skilled workforce that can support a diversified economy. I will also focus on increasing the pipeline of teachers entering the profession as well as increasing teacher retention rates. You cannot do one without the other. And we must modernize Hawaiʻi’s schools and expand early childhood education opportunities.
A solid education starts with high expectations for our students and unquestionable support for our teaching professionals. It also means empowering our teachers, principals, administrators and the Department of Education (DOE) with the authority to do their jobs and accept accountability for the results over which they have authority. Overly politicized arguments about “top down versus bottom up” no longer help resolve Hawaiʻi’s governance issue and my focus will be to transition to informed discussions based on credible metrics, financial data, national best practices and other relevant information (data). In addition, perpetuation of a “top down versus bottom up” mentality unnecessarily divides an educational community that must be focused on the same data and working together to ensure a quality education for every child.
Starting with the assumption that the best decisions are informed by the best data from our educational system, granting full transparency to non-privileged data (e.g., in accordance with the Family Educational Rights and Privacy Act (FERPA)) promotes accountability in decision making. Even third-party non-governmental educational think tanks should have access to the same data so they can be part of the discussions and decision making. Given the right resources, we must move forward aligned behind the best governance structure for Hawaiʻi’s DOE. That will include methods to grow our educator workforce, modernize our schools, and make our schools more conducive to teaching and learning the skill sets our students need to succeed and excel in a diversified economy.
Growing the educator workforce means recognizing that teaching is a “profession“ and teachers are “professionals.” Unfortunately, the teaching profession continues in record distress. In the 2017-2018 school year, the DOE reported 1,011 teacher vacancies. In addition, the number of new teachers hired who failed to complete a state-approved teacher education program increased from 125 in the 2011-2012 school year to 294 in the 2016-2017 school year. At the same time, the number of teacher resignations increased from 624 in 2011-2012 to 850 in 2015-2016, while the total number of voluntary teacher separations increased from 934 in 2011-2012 to 1,170 in 2016-2017. In short, teachers continue to leave the profession in record numbers and the DOE does not have the trained and licensed professionals to fill the voids. There must be a better way.
In addition to low pay (Hawaiʻi teachers still lag behind mainland salaries), one of the biggest barriers to recruiting and retaining teachers in our schools is the cost of housing. There are different tools to attract teachers and increase teacher retention, especially in difficult-to-fill geographic areas. Teacher housing used to be part of the solution, but it is virtually non-existent today and what’s left is in terrible disrepair. The state must target housing to create incentives for teaching professionals. Public-private partnerships between the state and the private sector are but one option for rebuilding teacher housing. The state should also reconsider the role of housing vouchers and the potential to partner with developers who agree to set aside affordable units for teachers. Bottom line, the state must give the DOE the tools it needs to hire and retain teaching professionals.
Another major issue in Hawaiʻi’s education system concerns the advanced age of our schools and deferred maintenance. We must renew, improve and modernize our schools to better meet the needs of students and faculty and to reflect the changing face of education today. It was just this year that the department gained unflattering attention for alleged “unlawful sex discrimination against female athletes in DOE schools by providing such athletes grossly unequal opportunities and access to athletic programs and facilities in comparison to their male counterparts” (ACLU Hawaiʻi letter dated Feb. 9, 2018).
It’s hard to imagine these deficiencies exist in Congresswoman’s Patsy Mink’s home state, but they do and these Title IX issues will get priority attention in my administration. I am also aware that the 21st Century Schools Program was proposed by a prior administration and approved by the Legislature, but it was never embraced by the current administration. Vision must be paired with a commitment to results if we are going to improve education in Hawaiʻi. As I have said many times, as your governor, I will not stand in the way of an initiative started under a prior administration because I need credit for the idea. I do not need credit. My focus is on results and, under my leadership, the DOE will come up with an implementable strategic plan to modernize Hawaiʻi’s aged schools and bring them into compliance with federal law.
Finally, we must make demonstrable strides in early childhood education:
Early childhood education fosters cognitive skills along with attentiveness, motivation, self-control and sociability – the character skills that turn knowledge into know-how and people into productive citizens.
James J. Heckman, Henry Schultz, Nobel Laureate and Distinguished Professor of Economics, The University of Chicago
The current administration has not delivered on early childhood education. In fact, the Executive Office of Early Learning was dismantled by this administration. I think it’s time to once again take action on the needs of early childhood education and not just within the DOE. It is a different area of educational expertise, resources, and focus and I am committed to look for ways to make it happen.
In my mind, every child deserves to flourish regardless of economic status, gender, ethnicity or where they live in the islands. We benefit as a community when all are able to fulfill their potential and thrive. As your governor, I will focus on school leadership and working with the department on funding and implementing systemic plans instead of piece meal fixes and initiatives.
FAST-TRACK HOUSING WITH AN EMPHASIS ON AFFORDABLE HOUSING
One of the major issues facing Hawai‘i is the lack of housing and affordable housing, both in rentals and home ownership. Increasingly, we hear complaints from those who find it difficult, if not impossible, to afford housing in their communities. Housing prices are growing faster than incomes in sought-after locations, pricing low and middle-income buyers and renters out of the market. According to the Honolulu Board of Realtors, in June 2018, the median price of single-family homes on O‘ahu was $782,388 and for condos was $420,000. Perhaps this explains why among all the states, Hawai‘i has one of the lowest percentages of homeownership.
Affordable housing is about putting people first. It’s about families struggling to make ends meet, young couples looking to secure a home for their children, and kūpuna and millennials having different budgets, needs and desires. It’s about finding a way to give everyone the opportunity to secure housing that most closely aligns with their unique circumstances.
While the current administration claims housing production is its first priority, the Department of Hawaiian Home Lands (DHHL) turned over no newly constructed homes to Native Hawaiian individuals and families since the beginning of this administration. Given DBEDT’s estimated Hawaiʻi’s demand for total new housing units at 64,700 to 66,000, for the 2015-2025 period, we must have a governor who understands the need to fast-track housing deliveries. Results matter more than processes and we simply can’t settle for building at rates that never catch up with demand.
As a result-oriented leader, I will take an aggressive role in delivering affordable housing units by:
- Identifying and eliminating the obstacles to affordable housing projects;
- Identifying and developing or making available for development, state lands appropriate for housing projects, including lands in Transit-Oriented Development (TOD) zones, economic and employment centers and lands appropriate for congregate housing near resource service agencies and service providers;
- Working with the counties to reduce the regulatory processes that burden developments and increase costs – time is money in housing construction, and in state’s instance that’s taxpayer money;
- Leveraging additional state funds to attract more private investment in affordable housing;
- Maintaining versus selling off public housing units to investors with provisions allowing them to escalate rents;
- Working with the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development (HUD) and other federal agencies to increase federal assistance (including tax credits) for affordable housing/rentals, particularly for low and very low-income families.
For kūpuna, one of the fastest growing segments of our population, we need to build and encourage congregate housing which offers independent living at affordable prices, with extra services and amenities available, such as housekeeping assistance, the provision for two or more meals a day, transportation to local malls, churches, medical facilities and other personal appointments.
As for millennials, we need to take the time to listen to and understand their values. Too often, senior leaders project their values onto others, thinking everyone wants to live precisely the way they lived 10, 20, 30 years ago, when nothing could be further from the truth. In my administration, we will take the time to understand millennials and fast track the planning, design and construction of affordable housing designed to meet their needs and desires.
For both kūpuna and millennials, there can be significant benefits to co-locating their housing in TOD or Smart Growth/Transit-Ready communities, where easy access to multimodal transportation is guaranteed and live, work, play lifestyles are facilitated and encouraged.
The housing challenges we face as a state are daunting. But difficulty and complexity must not weaken our resolve. As your governor, I commit to a leadership team that will fast track housing, with an emphasis on affordable housing, and I will make sure the projects meet the diverse needs and desires of our people and communities.
Read more in “Hanabusa unveils housing strategy” by the Honolulu Star-Advertiser.
ELIMINATE THE CONDITIONS AND FACTORS THAT LEAD TO HOMELESSNESS WHILE ASSISTING THE HOMELESS
As your governor, I will tackle the homelessness issue with an appreciation the issue is extremely complex. One size does not fit all. The factors that lead to homelessness are many and varied and the approaches to preventing and ending homelessness must be many and varied as well.
Optimally, the state, counties and non-governmental organizations/non-profits (NGOs) must work together to offer a continuum of care, resources and services designed to cut off the causes and factors that lead to homelessness while assisting the homeless in finding stability and alternative housing through a full continuum of resources, from ‘ohana zones, to shelters, to transitional facilities, to permanent housing.
The state must also be willing to seek out new approaches to preventing homelessness by drawing on successes achieved in other countries, states and cities and, where appropriate, adopt new best practices and tools so that we are not just chasing the homeless from park to park or sidewalk to sidewalk while failing to tackle the root causes of homelessness.
I am fortunate to have the collaborative relationships necessary to partner with the state Llégislature when it comes to implementing new and innovative measures, like the Legislature’s recent commitment of $30 million toward ‘ohana zones, where the homeless can live and receive the medical care, social services and other support they need — an approach I support.
Bottomline, the state must aggressively tackle homelessness head on and, as your governor, with a strong homelessness coordinator, I will lead the state, county and NGO teams to deliver measurable results towards preventing and ending homelessness.
PROTECT, PRESERVE AND IMPROVE HAWAI’I’S LEAD IN HEALTHCARE
Hawaiʻi is fortunate to have one of the highest rates of healthcare coverage in the nation thanks to our Prepaid Health Care Act (PHCA) passed in 1974 — a landmark piece of legislation that was the first in the nation to set minimum standards of healthcare coverage for workers. It ensures that full-time and 20-hour/week plus part-time employees, and their families upon election, are eligible for healthcare insurance coverage. As your governor, I will take proactive policy positions at the state level to protect the PHCA from attempts to undermine it at the federal level.
As it stands today, we have a president with a headstrong agenda to “repeal and replace” the Affordable Care Act (ACA). To that end, in the past 15 months, a Republican-led Congress has voted on numerous bills aimed at repealing or undermining critical provisions and protections in the ACA. Though unsuccessful at repealing the ACA to date, there remains much uncertainty regarding the long term integrity of the Act and the Republicans in Congress will undoubtedly continue to introduce bills attacking it. In 2018, almost 20,000 people in Hawaiʻi enrolled for coverage under the ACA via Hawaiʻi’s exchange.
The Hawaiʻi Legislature has taken the lead on fashioning policy protecting Hawaiʻi’s PHCA from federal attempts to undermine the ACA, including a law designed to limit the market for short-term health insurance contracts and a law ensuring certain benefits under the Act are preserved in Hawaiʻi law, e.g., extending dependent coverage for adult children up to 26 years of age and prohibiting health insurance entities from imposing a preexisting condition exclusion or using gender to determine premiums.
However, the current White House and majority in Congress will continue to look for ways to destabilize the ACA, and Hawaiʻi must be prepared to protect the PHCA and those enrolled in the ACA. This includes Hawai‘i’s Medicaid Expansion population who face significant health needs with an estimated one in four with diabetes, 30 percent with mental illness and one in three struggling with substance abuse or misuse. The loss of federal coverage for these 100,000+ adults would exceed $200 million dollars per year in federal funds.
As your governor, I will make sure Hawai‘i’s PHCA is protected, preserved and, to the fullest extent possible, improved and strengthened. I will also work to protect those dependent on federal health care benefits by advocating for policies favorable to the fullest coverage possible at the least cost, including:
- Allowing the states to define “Essential Health Benefits”;
- Empowering states to determine the appropriate rating methodology for their residents enrolled in the ACA, rating rules which affect health care premiums.
During my time in Congress, I worked with my colleagues to try and restore Medicaid coverage, known as Med-QUEST in Hawai‘i, for citizens of the Freely Associated States (FAS), whose governments entered into the Compacts of Free Association (COFA) with the United States: the Republic of the Marshall Islands, the Federated States of Micronesia, and the Republic of Palau. As your governor, I will continue to aggressively pursue federally funded healthcare for the COFA citizens who are presently ineligible for Medicaid/Med-QUEST. I will also pursue appropriate levels of federal funding for educational, social, public safety services or infrastructure for such services in support of the COFA population, funds due the state of Hawai‘i to defray costs anticipated by the federal government.
To further this initiative, we must communicate better with the COFA population and gather the data, including accurate census-type data, necessary for the state to identify the target population and quantify their need for and utilization of services. As your governor, I will work directly with the staff of the U.S. Department of Interior (DOI), Office of Insular Affairs, in Hawai‘i to improve the federal government’s support of the COFA population in Hawai‘i, including accurate census data from the DOI and appropriate federal funding as informed by the data. It is simply unconscionable that the state of Hawai‘i would accept the present level of federal support without taking the necessary steps to understand the COFA population, their needs and utilization of services. Any conversation with the federal government, to be effective, must be fully informed and as your governor, I will get the data necessary to inform the conversations and negotiations with the federal government. On behalf of the COFA population, I will not accept the status quo.
Finally, with respect to healthcare, I am a strong proponent of Community Health Centers. The success of these programs and the wrap-around services they provide individuals, families and communities is amazing in light of the tremendous fiscal constraints they face every year just to keep their doors open. As your governor, I will work to find ways to increase their capacities and expand their facilities, thereby nurturing the communities they serve.
There are simply too many healthcare related needs and issues to address them all in this short paper. Know, however, that I am committed to the best healthcare for the people of Hawai‘i and I will work with the healthcare community and service providers to resolve the challenges and issues confronting the healthcare industry.
FULFILL OUR COMMITMENTS TO OUR VETERANS
Those who have served in our nation’s military deserve not only our gratitude, but our full support. For some, their service of our country has meant a lifetime of upheaval and relocation. For others, it has meant pain and debilitating injury. For all veterans, it has meant sacrifice. Their loyalty to our country deserves no less than our loyalty to them in return. As your governor, I believe we have a sacred trust to honor our promises and commitments to our veterans:
- Honoring Our Promises: I believe we have a sacred trust to honor our promises and commitments to our veterans and the people that serve in the military, beginning the moment a service member enlists. I will honor veterans’ service by insuring we address the needs and concerns of all veterans and their families and advocate on their behalf at the federal level.
- A 21st Century VA: I am committed to working with the State of Hawaiʻi Veterans Affairs and the United States Veterans Administration (VA) to create and maintain a veteran’s program that we can all be proud of. I will work especially hard to fairly assist all veterans in Hawai‘i, regardless of where they live in the islands.
- Improved Health Care: I will advocate for VA funding sufficient to care for all veterans without having to prioritize and choose which veterans get treated. I will also advocate for the VA Medical Center in Hawaiʻi to be held to a higher standard by requiring quality assessments and the distribution of report assessments. I will champion improved benefits and provision of services.
- “Zero Tolerance” for Veterans Falling into Homelessness: I will adopt a strategy and work tirelessly to prevent at-risk veterans and their families from falling into homelessness in the State of Hawaiʻi through affordable housing for veterans programs and other supportive services. I will also help those veterans who have already become homeless.
- A New Approach to Mental Health: I will be a strong advocate for an improved mental health plan that will improve care for troops beginning with their recruitment, during their active duty tours, during demobilization and during their transition to civilian life. This includes advocating for better training to reduce stigma, pre and post-deployment screening and more mental health professionals imbedded with the troops and serving with the VA. I will also support Tele-Behavioral Medicine initiatives that will reach out to veterans and their families in the convenience of their homes.
- Make the System Work for All: I will support and urge the Pentagon and VA to implement better services for women in uniform, including women on active duty, in the National Guard and Reserves and women veterans, including those who are homeless.
- Helping Veterans Start and Grow Their Businesses: I will advocate for programs that help our veterans help themselves, including Veterans, Disabled Veterans, National Guard, and Reservists who want to start and grow their own businesses with appropriate assistance from such programs.
- I will support a memorial to Hawaiʻi’s fallen heroes at the Kaneohe Veterans Cemetery and will fight to see this initiative through to completion.
I will support and prioritize the construction of an O‘ahu Veterans Home, including completion of the incomplete tasks necessary to secure the commitment federal funds.
KŪPUNA AND MILLENNIAL PARTICIPATION IN MY CABINET
I believe in honoring what defines great societies – they take care of their seniors and elders (kūpuna) and they nurture a more enabling environment for the future. As our senior and millennial generations make up the largest percentages of our population, it’s only right they are adequately represented in government, including in my administration’s cabinet. We must take care of our kūpuna and we must listen to and understand the values of our millennials.
For our kūpuna, I want Hawai‘i to be a place where they are healthy, safe, productive and connected to their loved ones as they age, and I will commit the state resources, services and funding necessary to make that happen. I will not underfund kūpuna programs at levels that strain the resources and services available to this important community state-wide.
For our millennials, I have a campaign headquarters filled with millennials who are responding because we take the time to talk and listen to them. As I travel throughout the state, I understand and see that millennials are the future of innovation and diversification. We need to listen to them, we need to understand them and we need to consult with them. When we as a state invest taxpayer funds and build, whether it’s housing, communities or infrastructure, we need to listen, understand and consult with the generations we are building for and right now, millennials are in the best position to inform us for the future.
I look forward to listening, understanding and consulting with kūpuna and millennials through their representation in my cabinet, where they will work alongside me and my leadership team.
PROVIDE KŪPUNA, SENIORS AND ELDERS WITH THE SERVICES, RESOURCES AND SUPPORT THEY NEED
I was raised by my grandparents, so I know first-hand the value of kūpuna in Hawaiʻi. They are the backbone of Hawaiʻi’s society. They have given much during their time as parents, grandparents, community members, mentors and leaders, and now it is our time to make sure they are healthy, safe, productive and connected as they age.
I recently read Honolulu’s Age-Friendly City Action Plan and I learned from the perspective of seniors what an inclusive and accessible urban/suburban environment that encourages active and healthy aging looks like. While the City and County of Honolulu might be the only county in Hawaiʻi currently working with AARP National and the World Health Organization to build an age-friendly city, there is no reason the state should not similarly honor the visions, goals and recommendations of seniors.
At the end of the day, it really is about government looking at the provision of services, resources and support through the eyes of kūpuna. So whether it’s the design of a state park, the construction of a public facility or the provision of government services, given the state’s aging population, we must consider the communities we serve and adapt our structures and services to be accessible to and inclusive of seniors with varying needs and capabilities.
Under this concept, we will create a shared system of values, where we design our streets, sidewalks, parks, neighborhoods, buildings, public facilities and public services to be safe and accessible for young and old alike. This policy will encourage inclusion versus exclusion with more accessibility for keiki to kūpuna.
With respect to senior issues, I will also:
- Oppose cuts to Medicare, Medicaid and Social Security;
- Work to protect seniors/retirees pension plans;
- Oppose plans to tax retiree pensions as a source of additional revenue to the State of Hawai‘i;
- Support Complete Streets measures, Smart Growth initiatives and multimodal transportation systems;
- Support funding for the Kupuna Caregivers Act at meaningful levels for robust statewide implementation (according to AARP, there are more than 150,000 unpaid family caregivers in Hawaiʻi);
- Support funding for other senior programs, including Kupuna Care which provides services such as transportation, attendant care, case management, home-delivered meals, homemaker, and personal care services;
- Work with the private sector to create an aging in place infrastructure and support system that will empower seniors to age gracefully in the confines of their own homes.
FULFILL OUR COMMITMENTS TO NATIVE HAWAIIANS
There is no more special place to call home than Hawaiʻi. Yet for Native Hawaiians, they represent the only indigenous group in the United States that does not have political sovereignty. In addition, they disproportionately represent the face of socioeconomic ills in Hawaiʻi – homelessness, substance abuse, incarceration, obesity and low high school graduation rates. Why is that the case and why should anyone find that acceptable?
We need to recognize the state’s fiduciary obligations to Native Hawaiians and as your governor, I will:
- Acknowledge the right to self-determination and self-governance rests in the hands of Native Hawaiians;
- Accelerate the building of homes for the beneficiaries of the Department of Hawaiian Home Lands (DHHL) through focused leadership at the agency;
- Fight for continued federal funding of NAHASDA and engage with Federal Agencies to advance the opportunities of native Hawaiian beneficiaries on trust lands, including USDA, DOI, HUD, DHHS and DOC;
- Implement reforms at DHHL that improve cost and mission delivery efficiencies; for example, identify duplication of services in the agency with services provided outside the agency, improve the use of technology to manage the waitlist and provide accessible commission meeting data among, execute cooperative agreements with Homestead Associations, among others;
- Support the Homestead Housing Authority, a nonprofit developer, in their goal to build affordable units including rental projects on trust lands using their own trust funds;
- Support fairness in Ceded Land Revenue Allocations by establishing a transparent formula based calculations, and updating ceded land inventory records;
- Support the establishment of a ranching and farming program that returns Native Hawaiians to the land without the requirement of infrastructure and work to expand the availability of agricultural, technical and funding resources (state, federal and private);
- Listen to the Native Hawaiian community and understand their priorities, concerns and ideas;
- Embrace, acknowledge and celebrate the Hawaiian culture and the arts, with more Native Hawaiian art acquired for the state’s collection and for display in public spaces;
- Aggressively advocate for Congress to continue reauthorization of the Native Hawaiian Healthcare Improvement Act;
- Work to implement the recommendations of the Native Hawaiian Justice Task Force;
ACCELERATE HAWAI‘I’S CLEAN ENERGY GOALS
In January 2018, a state audit of the Hawai‘i State Energy Office found the Energy Office needed to better define its mission, role, and priorities, clearly articulate its expected contributions to Hawai‘i’s clean energy goals and compile data supporting its accomplishments.
The auditor also found “an organization at a crossroads: The Energy Office no longer has the funding to continue its current level of operations, it cannot clearly articulate how its efforts have contributed to its stated mandate, and it has no plans for aligning and re-sizing operations to match its broad responsibilities and current fiscal realities.” These findings are consistent with a loss of focus and a lack of result-oriented leadership at the top.
Hawai‘i is committed to 100-percent renewable energy by 2045, but we should not get there in spite of the state Energy Office. They should be leading the charge, just as they were back in 2008.
As your governor, I will call for the state Energy Office to comply with the state auditor’s recommendations. Our state energy office must have short- and long-term financial plans, it must develop a sustainable budget, it must update its strategic plan, it must develop metrics and manage to measurable goals and it must be accountable for its performance.
In April 2018, a report of the Rhodium Group commissioned by the Elemental Excelerator in partnership with Smart Growth America, looked at Hawai‘i’s energy numbers, talked to community members and considered different scenarios going forward. What Rhodium Group’s report showed was that Hawai‘i can meet its renewable energy targets faster than previously anticipated and at a lower cost than the status quo, create thousands of new, better paying clean energy jobs, and ensure a brighter future for Hawai‘i.
After consulting with national experts, including energy experts originally part of Hawai‘i’s Clean Energy Initiative partnership with the U.S. Department of Energy, and after reviewing all the numbers and data, I am convinced Hawai‘i’s consumers are better off if the state remains technology neutral, versus prescriptive, as to the energy sector’s use of fossil-fuel based energy sources. In fact, my discussions with national energy experts indicate Hawai‘i can expect more affordable energy, in addition to cleaner, safer and healthier energy, every year on the path to 100-percent renewable if we do not unnecessarily limit the energy sector’s options.
As a general premise, I am concerned with any strategic plan for a transition to 100-percent renewable energy if that plan encourages or promotes a system of haves and have nots. I believe our obligation as public servants is to make sure all consumers are enjoying the benefits of the state’s transition to clean energy, not just a select population, and I know there are technologies that have the potential to lower energy costs state-wide but for the current governor eliminating those options to burning black crude until 2045.
In closing, what Hawai‘i’s Clean Energy Initiative needs is proactive leadership and accountability. Let’s run the numbers every year and make sure we are delivering the healthiest, cleanest and lowest cost energy to our residents and businesses. While 2045 is a laudable goal, we should not waste the opportunity to do more, better along the way.
As governor, I will make sure the state energy office performs annualized measurements, embraces accountability and is driven by year-to-year performance measured against our state’s clean energy strategic plan. I will also make sure all of the state’s departments work together, in concert, focused and supportive of each other as the state moves to deliver real demonstrable clean energy at the lowest cost to consumers between now and 2045 or earlier.
PRIORITIZE HAWAI‘I’S STATE INFRASTRUCTURE
Highways, airports and harbors are the transportation lifelines that connect people and businesses to each other and the world. They are also some of the first and last impressions we make and leave on the tourists who visit our islands. Sadly, year after year, Hawai‘i’s highways and airports are rated some of the worst in the nation. And modernization plans to improve our state infrastructure drag on and on, years after they should have been completed. There is no excuse except a lack of result-oriented leadership at the top.
As your governor, I will:
- Prioritize the modernization of our airports and make them first-class facilities and points of pride for kama‘aina and visitors alike;
- Accelerate and complete the modernization of our harbors to lower the cost of shipped goods to our residents and businesses;
- Expand and fix our state highways to make travel between our communities safer, faster and easier, promoting connectivity and a healthy economy.
We simply cannot wait another four years while our deteriorating infrastructure crumbles around us. While the counties may be doing their part, every island depends on well-maintained state transportation system. The state must see to it these plans and dollars are put into action, improving our airports, harbors and highways.
RESTORE CONFIDENCE IN GOVERNMENT
To restore the public’s confidence in government, the governor’s office must demonstrate, on a daily basis, that it is getting the job done. Under my leadership, state departments will not let projects drift or problems persist. The focus will be on delivering results.
Four years ago, much was promised and expectations ran high for the current state administration. Unfortunately, there is little progress to show. There is much talk about doing things, but little talk about results. That is not my style. As a result-oriented leader, my focus in on making a difference in the lives of the people I serve, not talking about plans to make a difference in the future.
If you elect me governor of the state of Hawai‘i, I will work hard every single day to make your lives better. I hope you will give me a chance to show you the difference.