Affordable Housing and by extension Homelessness, Education, and Economic Diversification.
Unfortunately, there is no quick fix to solve Hawaii’s housing problem. It’s been an issue for six decades. I agree with everyone that we need more of it, but how? As I campaign across our beautiful state, a common theme emerges; locals can’t afford to live here and own a home! Our elected officials have passed legislation and established policies and procedures which amount to excessive red tape, drawing out the approval process to 8-10 years, and annual increases of inflation at the expense of homeowners.
As governor, my plan is to work with all our elected legislators, county mayors, developers, unions, OHA, state planners, banking industry representatives, and other stakeholders to reduce over-regulation, streamline the permit process, modify our state and county land-use, revisit zoning regulations, and return savings back to Hawaii’s taxpayers.
I would explore options that would provide incentives to our middle-class working families with our local banks to offer 30-year “zero – 4% home/equity loans to 1st time home buyers, farmers, and military service members returning home to our islands. For low-income earners I would explore rent-to-own options up to $125,000. I would work with County Mayors and the hotel industry to convert hotel units as studio condos for teachers, medical professionals, local high school graduates, and returning college students who commit to working for Hawaii State and Local Government.
This issue is complex, but I have over 40-years of leadership and management experience to assess, identify root causes, and implement solutions across local, state, and federal lines. I will have my administration report to me on the progress of this issue every 90 days until we have an acceptable solution.
Homelessness. Directly related to the affordable housing crisis is the homeless crisis. It’s no surprise Hawai’i ranks towards the bottom in the number of homeless per capita. As a government, we’ve done a poor job of handing the problem – housing the homeless and reclaiming our public areas. We lack a cohesive, evidence-based, cross-government program with authority to provide homeless-to-wellness options for our homeless population; and our focus on sweeping campaigns fails to resolve root issues. We need to stop enabling the homeless, find dignified solutions which get them the help they need with the ultimate goal to reintegrate them back into society. Our taxpayers are being punished by allowing the homeless and their encampments from occupying public parks and other property. Aside from our taxpayers, the homelessness issue affects perceptions by tourists, and whether we like it or not, we are dependent on their support to our economy. If tourists decide Hawai’i is too dirty, we have a major problem on our hands.
Our current approach is not working, and it is evident the greatest successes by students are those that attend Hawai’i’s private schools. Every family should be able to provide their children with a high-quality K – 12 education without sacrificing quality time together because of multiple jobs to pay school tuition and potentially incur crippling debt. Families have enough financial burdens and should not have to worry about trying to get their keiki into private or charter schools because of inadequate public schools. Hawaii is the only state in the U.S. that does not use its property taxes to pay for public school education. This is a travesty! We can improve our public school system, give families attractive educational choices, and lower financial stressors by doing so. We need to stop treating property revenue as a petty cash jar and allocate it for public school education and/or use the lottery to help improve our education system. We should allow school of choice and diversify public school curriculum and incentivize locals to join our teaching community. Teachers should receive higher wages and better retirement benefits, and there should be a band for educators with PhDs. I feel strongly about programs that help children and their families. This includes promoting childcare, education for both parents and their children, behavioral health resources to deal with increasingly “normal” stressors, support to families and children with disabilities, and programs that can leverage the experience and expertise of our kupuna community. As we know, both children and kupuna communities struggle without meaningful social interaction. By providing opportunities for kupuna to be involved with taking care of the next generation it can have a tremendous impact on everyone involved.
My plan is to give Hawaii’s families options by expanding our economic industries and providing tax incentives and credits to businesses focused on investing in our local economy. As governor, I’ll work with our congressional leaders to obtain federal funding to enhance economic growth. I’ll also work with county mayors, community organizers, local and national unions, business owners, and investors who are willing to work within our proposed revised business laws to diversify our economy with higher paying jobs. I will be pro-active in maximizing our island’s resources to sustain ourselves, and to establish food security mechanisms by reinvesting in agriculture, food production, farming, and fishing industries. I will bring back diversified transportation like the Super Ferry to enhance interisland connectivity. This will stimulate the economy by enabling streamlined interisland commerce for our local businesses, and ultimately end up increasing business-related infrastructure projects on each island.
I support the construction of the Thirty Meter Telescope. I am pro-Astronomy, just like our ancestors. Hawai’i’s location to observe the night sky is unparalleled. As long as we treat the land with great cultural reverence, we should move forward with building new telescopes to better understand the universe, and ultimately, our place within it. As Governor, I would appoint a Task Force with key stakeholders from all agencies and parties involved to explore and implement a solution that satisfies ongoing concerns. Most importantly, I think we can construct the telescope honorably, with respect for our environment and our heritage. I do support UH management, in partnership with the Office of Hawaiian Affairs. Many people done realize that UH contributes $1M yr. towards Mauna Kea (80% to Mauna Kea management; 20% to Office of Hawaiian Affairs), I think this number should increase.
I have serious reservations about how the Aloha Stadium Redevelopment public-private partnership (PPP) project is unfolding. I’m afraid we’ve been on the wrong track since lawmakers mangled the original financing plan in 2019 and made public development in Hawaii look like amateur hour. Like most development projects in Hawaii, this one is going to cost taxpayers more than they bargained for. With a private developer now paying the up-front cost for a new stadium, vice tax-free bond financing, taxpayers will see higher long-term costs and lower long-term returns. Granted, the proposed stadium is beautiful and if done right, will increase property value in Halawa, but at a much higher cost than was necessary. Moreover, there’s little to suggest the project will be done right. The project seams to exist in a vacuum, void of a cohesive plan for the Halawa area. In its annual report, the Stadium Development District states the project “is expected to include” retail, residential, commercial, hotels, hospitality, cultural, and community facilities” along with roads and public spaces, but nowhere is there a definitive, cohesive, community-informed plan to this end. Lastly, but perhaps most importantly, if we’ve learned anything as a State from PPP development projects, it’s that they don’t turn out the way they’re supposed to.
As governor, I will work with the resident expertise of economic advisors and subject matter experts at our universities to develop different courses of action to address recession scenarios.
As governor, I would institute an open-door policy making the governor and legislators more accessible to the public and ensure sessions involving public matters are open to the public. Furthermore, proposed bills would not succumb to wasteful spending in the form of special interest initiatives. I would implement a line-item veto, while showing the public exactly what legislators are voting on. An annual audit for all State budgets to reveal exactly where our money is being spent.