HONOLULU, HAWAII (January 22, 2018) – The House Minority Caucus responded to Governor David Ige’s annual State of the State Address in a press conference immediately following the legislative floor session.
The Minority Caucus identified 5 issues that the Governor failed to discuss:
Public Charter School Funding
The Minority Caucus believes every student in our State deserves equal access to education. With over 11,000 students in public charter schools, the State needs to address the inequality between DOE students and charter school students. The Minority Caucus is requesting that the State Auditor conduct a study on the legal framework and financial systems pertaining to public charter schools so that the legislature knows how to address the inequality in funding.
Equal Access to the Legislative Process
30% of Hawaii’s population reside on the neighbor islands and they must sacrifice more when wanting to participate in the legislative process. The Minority Caucus has submitted a bill that would require each chamber and county to have videoconferencing options available for testimonies by the neighbor islands.
Delays in Housing Development
The Governor mentioned that Hawaii is on track to developing 10,000 homes by 2020 with at least 40% of homes being “affordable.” But he failed to mention that Hawaii needs 65,000 new units in the next ten years to meet the growing housing demand. The Minority Caucus believes that bureaucratic delays in the permitting process contributes to the lack of affordable and timely housing. In Honolulu, it takes an average of 17 months to obtain a construction permit. The House Republicans have introduced a resolution that would urge the City and County of Honolulu to decrease these wait times to no more than six months.
Cost of Living Solutions
The Governor spoke about how our residents live paycheck to paycheck and need to work multiple jobs to afford the cost of living in Hawaii. But he again failed to name feasible solutions. The Minority Caucus is offering legislation that would “take the BITE out of food, Better If Tax Eliminated,” said Representative Cynthia Thielen. This bill would eliminate the general excise tax from groceries saving an average of $650 a year for a family of four.
The Missile False Alarm
The Governor also failed to mention the false missile alert on January 13th despite its relevancy to the people. The missile false alarm was unacceptable to the people of Hawaii. The House Minority Caucus introduced a resolution that condemns the 38-minutes of terror and ensures that lawmakers will do everything in their power to prevent such a mistake from happening again. The people of Hawaii need answers to this mistake and the Governor has failed to provide them.
“What we have proposed as a Caucus are common-sense, non-partisan measures,” said Minority Leader Andria Tupola. “We are in the 21st century, things like videoconferencing to testify on neighbor islands, or equal funding for public charter schools, or allowing the private sector to add a hiring preference for military veterans, should already be made available to the people.”
“When the Governor said, ‘the state of our State is strong’ I have seven reasons that would suggest otherwise,” said Minority Floor Leader Gene Ward. “Hawaii has the worst business climate, highest electricity rates, ranked last in US housing, our cost of living is high, we are ranked 50th in property crime and 43rd in education. If he is serious about addressing the population decrease due to young adults moving away, it starts with better educating our keiki here.”
“I think what we heard today is a typical David Ige speech. There was no big vision, no bold ideas, just tinkering around the edges,” said Representative Bob McDermott.
Representative Lauren Matsumoto said, “The biggest take away here is that we are a representative government. One of the most important things we do is hear from the people to make these laws. One thing we are doing as a caucus is introducing a bill that would allow us to hear from everyone, including the neighbor islands.”
The minority response was recorded and uploaded to be used if needed; please see link at the bottom. If you have any questions, please contact Mahealani Kahala. The House Republican Caucus consists of Minority Leader Andria Tupola (District 43), Minority Floor Leader Gene Ward (District 17), Representative Lauren Matsumoto (District 45), Representative Bob McDermott (District 40), and Representative Cynthia Thielen (District 50).
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