Wednesday, September 22, 2021
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Remarks by the Senate President-Opening of Hawaii’s 22nd Legislature

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Robert Bunda Image Gov. Lingle, Lt. Governor and Mrs. Aiona, Chief Justice Moon, Mayor Harris, Mayor Kim, Mayor Arakawa, Mayor Baptiste, Congressman Abercrombie, Congressman Case, Former Governor and Mrs. Ariyoshi, Mrs. Waihee, Admiral Doran, Lt. General Polk, Major General Lowe, Colonel Anderson, esteemed colleagues, honored guests, ladies and gentlemen: Aloha and welcome to the beginning of the 2003 Legislative Session. We convene the 22nd Hawaii State Legislature in an environment that is unfamiliar to us. We have a new chief executive, Gov. Lingle, an entirely new cabinet, and, I expect, ambitious new goals and priorities for the administration. We in the Senate look forward to working with the governor and her administration in serving the people of Hawaii and in building a stronger, more prosperous community. We face uncertainties presented by a struggling national economy and the potential impact of open military conflict on the global front. Meanwhile, it seems we’re facing the same fiscal realities that have dogged us for so long. Although our current economic condition may look bleak, I believe that it’s really an opportunity to restructure the way government does business and to restore public confidence in our institutions, or, as some like to call it, a new beginning. This means that we must be bold, that we shouldn’t be afraid to offer proposals that may seem too daring or far-reaching. We mustn’t hesitate to share ideas, to suggest the seemingly impossible, to resurrect discarded notions, or to seek new ways of doing what we’ve always done. I would argue that it’s our obligation as legislators to do so, and I know the Senate, with the decisive leadership of our committee chairs, will be at the forefront of these efforts. The biggest and most immediate hurdle we face this session is, of course, balancing the state budget. The previous governor submitted a budget that called for taking most of the money in the Hurricane Relief Fund, despite the Senate’s consistent and solid opposition to that plan. We in the Senate are fully aware that we must find creative ways to cut spending and increase revenues to make up the multi-million-dollar shortfall. With the leadership of Ways and Means Chair Brian Taniguchi, the collective experience of veteran legislators, and the fresh ideas of new Senators, I believe we’ll find a way. And we’ll do so without sacrificing vital public services or reneging on our past promises. Clearly, our economic problems are largely the result of forces beyond our shores. We will not find a solution to our own budget woes by spending cuts and fiscal maneuvering alone. But we have an opportunity to make changes to stimulate business growth and private sector job creation if we are willing to look beyond the traditional, beyond the tried-and-true. For example, the Legislature’s unprecedented offer of tax credits for hotel construction and renovation was vetoed by the governor last year. The Legislature agreed that tax credits can provide significant economic stimulation and this year we’ll have an opportunity to submit them to a governor who has publicly expressed her support for such incentives. It is also imperative that we grow our economy from its roots. We must bolster our support for agriculture, a sizable industry that has often been dismissed out-of-hand by skeptics. Agriculture is a $500-million contributor to Hawaii’s economy and employs 12,000 people. It keeps our land open and green, thereby supporting tourism and the preservation of our natural resources. It also provides the security of a local food supply in the event of shipping interruptions or an escalation in the price of imported produce. The Legislature has been vigorous in supporting the agricultural industry. During the past two years, we have appropriated nearly $26 million for infrastructure, mostly for improvements to irrigation systems across the state. The Senate Committee on Water, Land, and Agriculture, under the direction of Chair Lorraine Inouye, will be exploring ways to take agriculture to a new level. To do this, we must resolve water disputes. We must encourage the large landowners, including the State, to put agricultural land into long-term production, and conversely, discourage leaving productive land fallow. We must develop local and overseas markets for our commodities. More aggressive, broader marketing initiatives could give our farmers the muscle they need to find new markets for their products. We also have an opportunity to further bolster the sports industry. The thousands of runners who come to Hawaii for the Honolulu Marathon, the out-of-state fans who come for the NFL Pro Bowl, and the countless thousands who participate in dozens of events throughout the year represent a significant boost to our visitor industry. Tourism Chair Donna Mercado Kim, Minority Leader Fred Hemmings, and I recently visited Invesco Field in Denver. We saw how a public-private partnership can develop a successful, world-class sports center. We returned with ideas on how we can adopt a similar plan to replace our aging Aloha Stadium so it can accommodate larger, more profitable events. As with other industries, government must provide the investment in infrastructure that, in turn, supports growth. Our airports and harbors are vital links to the global economy and must be regarded as the major investment opportunities they really are. We must ensure that our harbors are capable of accommodating Hawaii’s growing cruise ship industry. And that will require upgrades to piers and facilities. We’ll count on the vision of Transportation Chair Cal Kawamoto for his support. In this same vein, as a commuter from Wahiawa who finds endless frustration in our traffic gridlock, I believe it’s time we dusted off our plans for a light-rail, mass transit system. It could link central points on Oahu with the City’s proposed plans for urban Honolulu. Not only will mass transit speed the movement of people and ease traffic, but it will create construction jobs, develop new business centers at key terminals, and provoke us into rethinking the way we live and work, much like the people of great cities around the world. Senator Inouye and Congressman Abercrombie have both expressed their willingness to go to bat for us in securing the money to underwrite such a system, and those of us in the Legislature must be willing to revisit this proposal to break the gridlock of indecision. If we fail, we will surely choke on the mounting traffic problems of a growing population. Up to this point, my emphasis has been on the economy, because I believe we desperately need the economic growth that will underwrite the public services that sustain our quality of life. In keeping with that theme, we must also have the political will to tackle the very serious drug problem that is infecting our society. We can consider any number of ideas. But let us give law enforcement officials the tools and resources they need to win the war against drugs and drug pushers. They have recommended a secure, long-term treatment facility for drug offenders. This is an idea we should definitely consider. We can also help school administrators and teachers tackle the drug problems of their students, before they pass the point of no return. New Orleans, for example, is attempting to combat drug abuse by screening, detection, and subsequent treatment during the formative and vulnerable adolescent years using mandatory drug testing. We can introduce a pilot drug-testing program for students, with appropriate and consistent solutions and penalties to show that we mean business. We need to take steps to protect our children in the schools and punish those who try to corrupt them or, even worse, cost them their very lives. We should bring the provisions of Chapter 19, the Department of Education’s disciplinary code, in line with the State’s penal code, to give consistency to school discipline. We should also enable educators to be made aware of the criminal histories of their students, information that is now denied them because of statutory restrictions. There are many more ways to make our schools and neighborhoods safer, but I offer these in the hope that others will bring their own suggestions to the table. While many of our economic and social problems persist, changes in the composition of the House and Senate and in the Executive Chambers should bring about new opportunities for us to collaborate on finding solutions to the concerns we all share, concerns that rise above party or creed. The people of Hawaii deserve no less. In my opening day address two years ago, I urged this body to welcome the opportunity for change. I am not a prophet but the words I spoke then seem even more appropriate today. Our real decision as legislators, I said, is whether we spend time resisting change, or do we embrace new ideas and make them our own tools for building a better Hawaii. Last year, I advocated better control of the budget process and cited the need to regain command over special funds in particular. This year, we have a governor who has promised to do this very thing as part of a new beginning. I say great. Let’s do it. I intend to advocate a true spirit of cooperation and collaboration. But we do not intend to sacrifice common sense solutions in our quest for consensus. The Legislature and the community as a whole have traditionally relied on consensus for making our decisions. While this method succeeds in resolving many problems, the absence of consensus and decisive leadership can sometimes stymie progress. Business and government leaders knew 40 years ago that the sugar and pineapple industries were dying. They couldn’t reach agreement on what they should do, so the agricultural industry lost the momentum and collective power it has never regained. Over the years, we have completed nearly 150 studies on various mass transit systems but have not been able to reach consensus on a single choice. It is our duty as legislators, as public officials, to act decisively, thereby demonstrating true leadership as well as a passionate and firm belief in our ability to revitalize our economy. In closing, let me say this. Gov. Lingle, the members of the Senate make this pledge to you and your new administration: We promise open and honest communication. But we are not without our own agenda for change. We are not blind to the needs of the people who elected us. And we are not without a will of our own to set a record of achievement that is responsive to the will of the people. This Senate, all twenty and five of us, stands ready to work hand in hand with the House and with the new administration, to effect the highest level of positive change for all the people of Hawaii. Aloha and mahalo.

Remarks by Senate Minority Leader -Opening of Hawaii’s 22nd Legislature

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Fred Hemmings Image Aloha Gov. Lingle, Lt. Gov. Aiona, Senate President Bunda, colleagues, distinguished guests, and most importantly the people of Hawaii: The sun is rising on better days in Hawaii. In November 2002 the people of this state sent a message when they elected a Republican Governor. Simply put, the people voted for change. We have a new administration that will join us in changing the course of state government. Our message to the majority party is to keep an open mind on the issues, be willing to embark in new directions, and to find new solutions to old problems. Mr. President -? there is an “outside force” that will make our proposals doable. Her name is Gov. Linda Lingle. As Republicans, we believe that in many instances there are enough laws. What we really do need is more enforcement of existing laws and most importantly, accountability. The most significant legislation this session will be the budget. We are prepared to do what we have been advocating for years, which is to reduce government spending, and turn dividends in the form of tax cuts back to the working men and women of Hawaii. The new administration is not going to be complacent about unchecked spending. In turn, the Legislature must be bold in its attempts to cut not just millions but hundreds of millions of dollars from the state budget. If we are going to accomplish this we must eliminate waste, inefficiency, and the inappropriate spending that has been identified and documented by countless legislative audits. Other steps toward a more efficient state government include eliminating the duplication of services between the counties and the state. Public and private partnerships can be implemented to build public infrastructure such as schools, sports and recreational facilities. We can enhance revenues to the state by ensuring that Hawaii gets its fair share of federally funded and mandated programs. For instance our congressional delegation should more vigorously pursue federal funding that would expand support for the Felix Consent Decree mandates. This should be as important to our delegation as defense spending. We need to better serve the abused, needy, elderly and those with infirmities, such as serious mental illness. We must contract more private charitable organizations. It is well known that these organizations are most cost effective in delivering services to the vulnerable and the needy. Through efficiency and strong leadership the Lingle Administration can start reducing the state workforce through attrition. Last year, we identified 94 million dollars of funded vacant positions that were being spent elsewhere. Nothing of significance was done. Furthermore, in the area of honest state budgeting, the figure of more than three billion dollars in “special funds” makes a mockery out of the alleged budget. If a corporation did these things, those responsible would be indicted. As of December 2002, our research shows one hundred ten million dollars worth of funded vacant positions. If money is budgeted for a specific purpose, it should be spent for that purpose, not turned into a slush fund. This kind of activity is another example of why we must have an open and honest state budget. We advocate cutting vacant positions if they are not filled within a reasonable amount of time and eliminating most special funds. As Senate Republicans we are committed to no new taxes, no new fee increases, and hands off all the Hurricane Relief Fund. From this moment forward we must measure the effectiveness of government agencies not by how much they spend, but rather by their success in getting the job done. That is why we are also advocating a zero-based budgeting process. It’s all about accountability. Senate Republicans do not believe politicians should control the economy. We do believe that consumers and the businessmen and women of Hawaii should be the chief regulators and driving force behind economic development. Honest profit is not the enemy of the people; rather it is the fuel of a healthy economy. By cutting regulations, taxes, and hidden barriers to economic opportunity, we can empower the people of Hawaii to develop the economy. It is called free enterprise. Once again we are advocating completely eliminating the General Excise Tax on groceries and medical services. The sick and the hungry should not have to pay taxes to eat or see a doctor. Furthermore, we advocate a reduction in the General Excise Tax, which is currently at four per cent. The Tax Foundation of Hawaii has indicated that if the General Excise Tax rate was replaced by an across the board Retail Sales Tax rate that tax rate would have to be more than 12 percent to generate the same revenue from consumers. It is easy to see why taxes alone contribute to Hawaii’s sad reputation of being one of the most expensive places to live in the Nation. To provide economic stimulus, we are simply proposing to reduce the General Excise Tax from four per cent to three and one half percent. This will put about 200 million dollars back into the hands of all the people and businesses of Hawaii, not just a targeted few. To balance the state budget, these tax reductions will be made up of identified cuts in government spending. It can be done, it must be done. To further diversify and stimulate the economy the Republican Caucus will introduce legislation to eliminate excessive regulations such as the Public Utilities Commission’s stranglehold on transportation and energy in Hawaii. Furthermore, we must allow counties the ability to control their own destiny in water and land use by eliminating the duplicated services of the state Water and Land Use Commissions. Despite obstructions by the Department of Education and the Board of Education, we have seen the charter school movement gain momentum in marvelous ways. Today, I would like to take this opportunity to introduce two young people who are shining examples of the tremendous good charter schools can do for Hawaii’s students. I realize that our public school system serves the needs of many, but not all. Lei and Eddie will you please stand. Lei Freed and Eddie Turk were enrolled in the public school system. They can tell you the sad tale of their truancy, failing grades, and loss of hope. But now Lei and Eddie are students of Halau Ku Mana Public Charter School. They, like so many others across this state, are a living testament to the success of charter schools. Their hopelessness has been replaced with the prospect of a bright future. Their story will warm your heart. This kind of success is why Republicans are committed to expanding the number of charter schools. We seek reliable and equal funding for these schools. The parents of Hawaii’s school children deserve a choice of how and where their children are educated. During the nineteen sixties the state of Hawaii began an alleged egalitarian statewide school system. Overwhelming evidence proves that this system has not accomplished its mission. We want to put Board of Education members and the Department of Education Offices and their resources back into the districts where the parents, teachers, and students are, we want true decentralization. We cannot just throw more money at the public education system and fool the people of Hawaii into thinking we are improving education. This is why Republicans are advocating systemic reform. Let’s make it happen! No matter what our political labels, we all want economic prosperity, better education, and an efficient and honest government. So it is not a question of what we want but rather how to make it happen. Cynics who have supported the status quo for all these years will say Republicans have not come up with anything new. Our response is that business as usual is what is not new. Our quest is to identify new solutions for old problems. With the majority party’s help we are prepared to build a healthy bipartisan system of self-governance. In the legislature we must build coalitions around issues and not around divisive party lines. Common sense does not have a political label. The sun is indeed rising on a better day. Hawaii is no longer in the shadow of an all-powerful one party government. Your Senate Republicans know that the future can be so much better if we return the resources and control back to the people of Hawaii. Let’s work together to make this happen We are proud, we are confident and we are hopeful. Let’s get to work.

Remarks by House Speaker-Opening of Hawaii's 22nd Legislature

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“Calvin Say Image”

Honored guests, members, ladies and gentlemen. Aloha and welcome.

The 22nd session of the Hawaii State Legislature convenes today with a mandate from the people for change. Our families and communities are being tested in ways that question our resolve and our ability to meet the challenges before us. All around us, the world seems on the brink of renewed chaos — the international scene threatens war, the American economy is faltering. More than 35 states, including our own, face wrenching budget decisions.

The optimism of many of us has eroded. Our seniors are forced to keep working. Our most important institutions have been wracked by scandal. Corporate officers face indictment for fraud and theft, leaving their companies bankrupt and their employees facing ruin. Politicians have betrayed our trust seeking personal gain at the community’s expense. Our challenges appear far more difficult and even dangerous than they were just two years ago.

In this time of turmoil, Hawaii voters made an historic decision. We elected the first woman as governor in our state’s history. The fact that she is also a Republican is not my concern. She is our governor — we need each other’s help, and we must find a way to work together to meet the challenges of our time.

I speak to you today, not just as an elected leader, but as a citizen and a small businessman, a neighbor and a friend. We must not give up hope. The promise lies within each of us to create a better future for our children, but to do that, we must make tough decisions.

First of all we must begin by recognizing that the days of asking, “What’s in it for me?” are over. We must forge a new partnership where each of us who is able carries a fair share of the load. We must find a way to continue to protect those among us who cannot help themselves.

Many citizens have lost faith in government to do the right thing. We can begin to restore their trust by putting government on the same kind of performance standards that we are now asking of our children in school.

That means that government sets objectives that are measurable, specific and achievable. When a government agency says a program will create better-paying jobs, people have a right to expect that promise to be kept.

This session we will mandate new performance standards that ensure politicians and government agencies do not make promises they cannot keep. To help us achieve this goal, the auditor’s watchdog authority will be expanded.

We will make sure that our own house is in order. Campaign finance reform will be a priority this session. Corporations and special interest groups cannot be allowed to use their campaign contributions to unduly influence the people’s business. And politicians who violate the people’s trust must know the consequences of that violation will be severe.

We will put more decision-making power into the hands of the people we serve. Our communities have a right to a bigger say in how their schools are run. But at the same time we should be careful and not waste our time trying to reinvent the wheel. We can learn from the experience of other communities where district school boards were tried and failed.

These experiments, which looked so good at the start, failed because they did not give the schools the one thing they need — accountability. And we already know that accountability is a significant problem for our schools. Just last week, a national survey ranked Hawaii schools as ninth lowest in the nation in terms of accountability.

It should be clear to all of us by now — we can no longer accept status quo schools. We will propose significant reforms in school administration. These reforms will give our schools greater authority and flexibility, help them to obtain needed resources, and build and manage community support. Most important of all, these reforms will provide new standards for accountability.

The state system of school repair and maintenance is woefully inadequate. This is one critical area where community-based decisions are the right way. Local schools know what needs to be fixed. Government should provide the resources and then get out of the way. We will pass legislation to allow schools to make their own contract decisions and speed up repair and maintenance.

Parents and community members need a greater voice in the operation of their neighborhood schools. We will propose the establishment of a community-based school board initiative. Imagine what we can do if teachers, parents, administrators and students set their goals together. Passing a standardized test is not enough. We must teach our kids how to learn, and help them learn how to think.

Sept. 11 taught us a lesson we can never forget — dependence on one industry or one resource is a dependence we can no longer afford. We must diversify our economic base and lessen our dependence on outside resources. When our nation was attacked, Hawaii’s economic engine took a direct hit. There are hopeful signs of recovery, and our hard work in the Special Session has produced some results, but Hawaii’s economy has not fully recovered. If our nation goes to war, defense spending in Hawaii will decrease, That is a real possibility and it must strengthen our resolve to diversify Hawaii’s job base.

We must act to help local business improve job retention. Existing small businesses are the backbone of our economy. We must help them grow. To help in this effort, we will propose a targeted job creation tax initiative. This measure will help diversify our industries, and encourage outside businesses to bring new jobs to Hawaii.

Tax incentives can be a vital part of an overall economic strategy, but the people and companies who use them must also be held to a standard. New credit programs must undergo regular financial checkups and be held accountable for results. The Tax Review Commission’s recent report to the Legislature is right on track. We believe its recommendations are a solid base on which to build tax incentives for our New Economy.

It is important that all of us understand one thing — economic development is not a business agenda, it is a way to accomplish Hawaii’s social goals:

*Quality, affordable health care for the sick and elderly;

*A healthy environment for our children to grow up in;

*Higher-paying jobs to help support our families;

*Social equality for all of Hawaii’s citizens; and

*The preservation of values built into our host culture.

The ultimate goal of economic development is to benefit our people. We must shape our economic development in a way that’s right for us, not special interests or the very wealthy.

Today in our nation’s capital, old thinking rules the administration’s policies. These worn-out ideas propose enormous tax cuts for the very rich while the national deficit begins climbing toward historic highs. Once again, we are borrowing on our children’s future. These same tired ideas come from a president who believes the elimination of dividend taxes will ignite the next economic boom.

These measures are sure to bring happy days to the White House, but they will not put food on our tables or fix a school’s leaky roof.

What the Republican administration in Washington fails to realize is our critical need for a comprehensive domestic strategy. Even people who worked for this administration say it has no domestic policy. Instead, it focuses on its foreign affairs agenda and manages the home front with public relations tactics and Republican programs that benefit the wealthy.

Let’s look at the facts. The latest analysis of Federal Reserve data shows that 85 percent of the stocks in this country are owned by the very rich. The president says if we help these people, the rest of us will benefit later on. Twenty years ago, they called that “trickle-down” economics. Given our current budget situation, we may
not have enough time to wait for the trickle.

We believe we have a better idea — an idea that focuses on our future here in Hawaii, a future that is built by increasing the knowledge base of our economy through research, education, skills and technical innovation. We believe the most effective way of managing this future is through partnerships between government and local enterprises.

Government will do a better job if it engages in these partnerships as a facilitator and not a regulator. Our businesses, schools and non-profits need a significant infusion of technology to compete in this knowledge-based economy. We cannot accomplish this alone. Together, with the help of private partnerships, we can achieve greater efficiency and measurable results.

In 1881, King David Kalakaua and his Attorney General turned to one of the most brilliant minds in history. The King asked a man named Edison to study the possibility of using power from Hawaii’s volcanoes to produce electricity to light Hawaii’s homes. It was more than 80 years after the King’s discussion with Edison that Hawaii began geothermal exploration.

Today, geothermal energy provides almost 20 percent of energy needs on the Island of Hawaii. And still, there are small and vocal groups that would like to turn back the clock. We can no longer afford to ignore an energy source that is in our own backyard.

The time has come to face a hard truth about Hawaii’s energy needs — imported oil supplies 90 percent of Hawaii’s energy. No place else in the United States is so critically dependent on imported oil. Unlike the mainland, Hawaii cannot turn to neighboring states to make up for any temporary or permanent energy shortages.

Unlike the mainland, imported oil is the single thread that can completely unravel Hawaii’s future.

Geothermal can be a bigger part of our energy future, but so must other alternative energy sources. We are blessed with abundant sunlight, but few of Hawaii government buildings take advantage of solar power. We can do better. This year, we will extend renewable energy tax credits because we know they work. And we will begin a program to mandate the conversion of public buildings to solar energy resources.

Just this month, Hawaiian Electric announced a promising new program with a $10 million investment in alternative energy development. This is a promising first step. But we can do more. We will speed up this process by seeking a statewide energy audit.

The people of Hawaii are counting on you, Gov. Lingle, to lay out a compelling agenda in your State of the State address. But even your most avid supporters concede that dramatic breakthroughs may be difficult. I have great hopes for the governor. And I have great hopes for Hawaii’s lawmakers. Working together, we can meet the challenges of our time.

I also appreciate our new governor’s efforts to help with the issue of interim payment of revenues to the Office of Hawaiian Affairs. However, we have found a way to resolve this issue expeditiously without having to go further through the legislative process. Over the last several weeks, the Chair of OHA, together with legal counsel, and the Chair and Vice-chair of the Hawaiian Affairs Committee, worked out a solution.

Haunani Apoliona, Ezra Kanoho, Sol Kahoohalahala, through your efforts our obligations to the Hawaiian people will be fulfilled. $10.3 million in deferred payment will be made.

Members, on your desk is a small gift from me. It is a symbol of what we can accomplish together. The bamboo plant is an ancient Chinese symbol of strength and good fortune The empty center of the stem represents a virtuous person with an open mind. The bamboo thrives because it is flexible. I hope we can be like this too — flexible, but strong.

Aloha and mahalo.

Remarks by House Speaker-Opening of Hawaii’s 22nd Legislature

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“Calvin Say Image”

Honored guests, members, ladies and gentlemen. Aloha and welcome.

The 22nd session of the Hawaii State Legislature convenes today with a mandate from the people for change. Our families and communities are being tested in ways that question our resolve and our ability to meet the challenges before us. All around us, the world seems on the brink of renewed chaos — the international scene threatens war, the American economy is faltering. More than 35 states, including our own, face wrenching budget decisions.

The optimism of many of us has eroded. Our seniors are forced to keep working. Our most important institutions have been wracked by scandal. Corporate officers face indictment for fraud and theft, leaving their companies bankrupt and their employees facing ruin. Politicians have betrayed our trust seeking personal gain at the community’s expense. Our challenges appear far more difficult and even dangerous than they were just two years ago.

In this time of turmoil, Hawaii voters made an historic decision. We elected the first woman as governor in our state’s history. The fact that she is also a Republican is not my concern. She is our governor — we need each other’s help, and we must find a way to work together to meet the challenges of our time.

I speak to you today, not just as an elected leader, but as a citizen and a small businessman, a neighbor and a friend. We must not give up hope. The promise lies within each of us to create a better future for our children, but to do that, we must make tough decisions.

First of all we must begin by recognizing that the days of asking, “What’s in it for me?” are over. We must forge a new partnership where each of us who is able carries a fair share of the load. We must find a way to continue to protect those among us who cannot help themselves.

Many citizens have lost faith in government to do the right thing. We can begin to restore their trust by putting government on the same kind of performance standards that we are now asking of our children in school.

That means that government sets objectives that are measurable, specific and achievable. When a government agency says a program will create better-paying jobs, people have a right to expect that promise to be kept.

This session we will mandate new performance standards that ensure politicians and government agencies do not make promises they cannot keep. To help us achieve this goal, the auditor’s watchdog authority will be expanded.

We will make sure that our own house is in order. Campaign finance reform will be a priority this session. Corporations and special interest groups cannot be allowed to use their campaign contributions to unduly influence the people’s business. And politicians who violate the people’s trust must know the consequences of that violation will be severe.

We will put more decision-making power into the hands of the people we serve. Our communities have a right to a bigger say in how their schools are run. But at the same time we should be careful and not waste our time trying to reinvent the wheel. We can learn from the experience of other communities where district school boards were tried and failed.

These experiments, which looked so good at the start, failed because they did not give the schools the one thing they need — accountability. And we already know that accountability is a significant problem for our schools. Just last week, a national survey ranked Hawaii schools as ninth lowest in the nation in terms of accountability.

It should be clear to all of us by now — we can no longer accept status quo schools. We will propose significant reforms in school administration. These reforms will give our schools greater authority and flexibility, help them to obtain needed resources, and build and manage community support. Most important of all, these reforms will provide new standards for accountability.

The state system of school repair and maintenance is woefully inadequate. This is one critical area where community-based decisions are the right way. Local schools know what needs to be fixed. Government should provide the resources and then get out of the way. We will pass legislation to allow schools to make their own contract decisions and speed up repair and maintenance.

Parents and community members need a greater voice in the operation of their neighborhood schools. We will propose the establishment of a community-based school board initiative. Imagine what we can do if teachers, parents, administrators and students set their goals together. Passing a standardized test is not enough. We must teach our kids how to learn, and help them learn how to think.

Sept. 11 taught us a lesson we can never forget — dependence on one industry or one resource is a dependence we can no longer afford. We must diversify our economic base and lessen our dependence on outside resources. When our nation was attacked, Hawaii’s economic engine took a direct hit. There are hopeful signs of recovery, and our hard work in the Special Session has produced some results, but Hawaii’s economy has not fully recovered. If our nation goes to war, defense spending in Hawaii will decrease, That is a real possibility and it must strengthen our resolve to diversify Hawaii’s job base.

We must act to help local business improve job retention. Existing small businesses are the backbone of our economy. We must help them grow. To help in this effort, we will propose a targeted job creation tax initiative. This measure will help diversify our industries, and encourage outside businesses to bring new jobs to Hawaii.

Tax incentives can be a vital part of an overall economic strategy, but the people and companies who use them must also be held to a standard. New credit programs must undergo regular financial checkups and be held accountable for results. The Tax Review Commission’s recent report to the Legislature is right on track. We believe its recommendations are a solid base on which to build tax incentives for our New Economy.

It is important that all of us understand one thing — economic development is not a business agenda, it is a way to accomplish Hawaii’s social goals:

*Quality, affordable health care for the sick and elderly;

*A healthy environment for our children to grow up in;

*Higher-paying jobs to help support our families;

*Social equality for all of Hawaii’s citizens; and

*The preservation of values built into our host culture.

The ultimate goal of economic development is to benefit our people. We must shape our economic development in a way that’s right for us, not special interests or the very wealthy.

Today in our nation’s capital, old thinking rules the administration’s policies. These worn-out ideas propose enormous tax cuts for the very rich while the national deficit begins climbing toward historic highs. Once again, we are borrowing on our children’s future. These same tired ideas come from a president who believes the elimination of dividend taxes will ignite the next economic boom.

These measures are sure to bring happy days to the White House, but they will not put food on our tables or fix a school’s leaky roof.

What the Republican administration in Washington fails to realize is our critical need for a comprehensive domestic strategy. Even people who worked for this administration say it has no domestic policy. Instead, it focuses on its foreign affairs agenda and manages the home front with public relations tactics and Republican programs that benefit the wealthy.

Let’s look at the facts. The latest analysis of Federal Reserve data shows that 85 percent of the stocks in this country are owned by the very rich. The president says if we help these people, the rest of us will benefit later on. Twenty years ago, they called that “trickle-down” economics. Given our current budget situation, we may
not have enough time to wait for the trickle.

We believe we have a better idea — an idea that focuses on our future here in Hawaii, a future that is built by increasing the knowledge base of our economy through research, education, skills and technical innovation. We believe the most effective way of managing this future is through partnerships between government and local enterprises.

Government will do a better job if it engages in these partnerships as a facilitator and not a regulator. Our businesses, schools and non-profits need a significant infusion of technology to compete in this knowledge-based economy. We cannot accomplish this alone. Together, with the help of private partnerships, we can achieve greater efficiency and measurable results.

In 1881, King David Kalakaua and his Attorney General turned to one of the most brilliant minds in history. The King asked a man named Edison to study the possibility of using power from Hawaii’s volcanoes to produce electricity to light Hawaii’s homes. It was more than 80 years after the King’s discussion with Edison that Hawaii began geothermal exploration.

Today, geothermal energy provides almost 20 percent of energy needs on the Island of Hawaii. And still, there are small and vocal groups that would like to turn back the clock. We can no longer afford to ignore an energy source that is in our own backyard.

The time has come to face a hard truth about Hawaii’s energy needs — imported oil supplies 90 percent of Hawaii’s energy. No place else in the United States is so critically dependent on imported oil. Unlike the mainland, Hawaii cannot turn to neighboring states to make up for any temporary or permanent energy shortages.

Unlike the mainland, imported oil is the single thread that can completely unravel Hawaii’s future.

Geothermal can be a bigger part of our energy future, but so must other alternative energy sources. We are blessed with abundant sunlight, but few of Hawaii government buildings take advantage of solar power. We can do better. This year, we will extend renewable energy tax credits because we know they work. And we will begin a program to mandate the conversion of public buildings to solar energy resources.

Just this month, Hawaiian Electric announced a promising new program with a $10 million investment in alternative energy development. This is a promising first step. But we can do more. We will speed up this process by seeking a statewide energy audit.

The people of Hawaii are counting on you, Gov. Lingle, to lay out a compelling agenda in your State of the State address. But even your most avid supporters concede that dramatic breakthroughs may be difficult. I have great hopes for the governor. And I have great hopes for Hawaii’s lawmakers. Working together, we can meet the challenges of our time.

I also appreciate our new governor’s efforts to help with the issue of interim payment of revenues to the Office of Hawaiian Affairs. However, we have found a way to resolve this issue expeditiously without having to go further through the legislative process. Over the last several weeks, the Chair of OHA, together with legal counsel, and the Chair and Vice-chair of the Hawaiian Affairs Committee, worked out a solution.

Haunani Apoliona, Ezra Kanoho, Sol Kahoohalahala, through your efforts our obligations to the Hawaiian people will be fulfilled. $10.3 million in deferred payment will be made.

Members, on your desk is a small gift from me. It is a symbol of what we can accomplish together. The bamboo plant is an ancient Chinese symbol of strength and good fortune The empty center of the stem represents a virtuous person with an open mind. The bamboo thrives because it is flexible. I hope we can be like this too — flexible, but strong.

Aloha and mahalo.

Remarks by the House Republican Leader-Opening of Hawaii's 22nd Legislature

0

“Galen Fox Image”

Aloha Kakahiaka. It’s a beautiful morning. Isn’t it a beautiful day in Hawaii nei?

Some of you, like me, remember when Hawaii was a territory. You remember when we were second class citizens, left out of the promise America offered residents of the 48 states. Then one bright morning, the door opened, and the nation welcomed us in. Hawaii became a state. What a beautiful day.

Hawaii was then an exciting place filled with hope. The last territorial Legislature glowed from the creative sparks produced by rubbing new ideas against old. Republicans and Democrats were all involved, a Republican governor, a Democratic Legislature, together generating change that enlarged Hawaii’s role in the nation, and embraced our entire population.

Now, today, such a beautiful day has come again. We have a new governor. The windows have been thrown open. The fresh breeze of change is blowing through our collective home. Once again, after an absence of 40 years, no matter what your party, Hawaii has a place for you. Fifty-one representatives feel the joy that comes from being part of solutions that involve Republicans, Democrats, and all Hawaii standing together.

The solutions we crave are those that help people find jobs. All of us want more jobs for Hawaii’s people. It’s the lack of jobs that is forcing families apart, and sending our friends to the mainland. Most transplanted ex-Hawaii residents would rather be home, if they could make a decent living here. We need jobs.

All of us want not just jobs, but better paying jobs for Hawaii’s people. The “price of paradise” is a real problem here. Hawaii’s cost of living is 22 percent above the national average; only the Bay Area is more expensive. Yet our wages are barely above the national average. We have an income gap that makes it hard to live here.

To have better paying jobs, we need to take Hawaii into the knowledge-based economy. For that, Hawaii’s people need a good public education system. Reforming public education has to be one of this Legislature’s top priorities. To seize our future, we must improve public education now — we need action, not studies.

The road ahead remains difficult. But we know that real change comes from Republicans and Democrats, business, labor, and government, working side-by-side to get the job done.

History has led us to this remarkable January 2003 morning. At the dawn of the territorial era, 100 years ago, James Dole brought the pineapple industry here. It was the last time Hawaii, on its own, generated a major new industry. Pearl Harbor, World War II, Korea, and Vietnam gave us the defense industry, a boon to our economy that owed little to our own initiative. And so it was with tourism, which grew Hawaii through statehood’s first three decades. Tourism thrived because of outside forces — the jet plane, the jumbo jet, mainlanders discovering the neighbor islands, and finally Japanese tourism and investment. It all came so easily. We were freed from the discipline of having to work together to make our own future.

Since the Japanese bubble burst in 1990, we have been searching for a new path to prosperity. After 1990, tourism stopped growing. After 1990, Hawaii family income dropped 15 percent in relation to the rest of the country, from 21 percent higher to only 6 percent higher. After 1990, while state government employment jumped 15 percent and our population grew by 9 percent, private sector job growth stopped-increasing by just 3 percent. After 1990, Hawaii’s poverty rate rose faster than that of any other state, and a higher share of Hawaii’s population left for other states than did the population of any other state.

Now we stand at the beginning of a new day. We are filled with hope. We know that no outside force or event is going to bless us the way Pacific wars and the jet plane helped us earlier. We know we are going to have to do it ourselves. And we will work hard to shape our own destiny. We will find the common ground that unites us, and for the benefit of Hawaii’s people, we will embrace change. Let’s do it, let’s do it together.

Mahalo.

Remarks by the House Republican Leader-Opening of Hawaii’s 22nd Legislature

0

“Galen Fox Image”

Aloha Kakahiaka. It’s a beautiful morning. Isn’t it a beautiful day in Hawaii nei?

Some of you, like me, remember when Hawaii was a territory. You remember when we were second class citizens, left out of the promise America offered residents of the 48 states. Then one bright morning, the door opened, and the nation welcomed us in. Hawaii became a state. What a beautiful day.

Hawaii was then an exciting place filled with hope. The last territorial Legislature glowed from the creative sparks produced by rubbing new ideas against old. Republicans and Democrats were all involved, a Republican governor, a Democratic Legislature, together generating change that enlarged Hawaii’s role in the nation, and embraced our entire population.

Now, today, such a beautiful day has come again. We have a new governor. The windows have been thrown open. The fresh breeze of change is blowing through our collective home. Once again, after an absence of 40 years, no matter what your party, Hawaii has a place for you. Fifty-one representatives feel the joy that comes from being part of solutions that involve Republicans, Democrats, and all Hawaii standing together.

The solutions we crave are those that help people find jobs. All of us want more jobs for Hawaii’s people. It’s the lack of jobs that is forcing families apart, and sending our friends to the mainland. Most transplanted ex-Hawaii residents would rather be home, if they could make a decent living here. We need jobs.

All of us want not just jobs, but better paying jobs for Hawaii’s people. The “price of paradise” is a real problem here. Hawaii’s cost of living is 22 percent above the national average; only the Bay Area is more expensive. Yet our wages are barely above the national average. We have an income gap that makes it hard to live here.

To have better paying jobs, we need to take Hawaii into the knowledge-based economy. For that, Hawaii’s people need a good public education system. Reforming public education has to be one of this Legislature’s top priorities. To seize our future, we must improve public education now — we need action, not studies.

The road ahead remains difficult. But we know that real change comes from Republicans and Democrats, business, labor, and government, working side-by-side to get the job done.

History has led us to this remarkable January 2003 morning. At the dawn of the territorial era, 100 years ago, James Dole brought the pineapple industry here. It was the last time Hawaii, on its own, generated a major new industry. Pearl Harbor, World War II, Korea, and Vietnam gave us the defense industry, a boon to our economy that owed little to our own initiative. And so it was with tourism, which grew Hawaii through statehood’s first three decades. Tourism thrived because of outside forces — the jet plane, the jumbo jet, mainlanders discovering the neighbor islands, and finally Japanese tourism and investment. It all came so easily. We were freed from the discipline of having to work together to make our own future.

Since the Japanese bubble burst in 1990, we have been searching for a new path to prosperity. After 1990, tourism stopped growing. After 1990, Hawaii family income dropped 15 percent in relation to the rest of the country, from 21 percent higher to only 6 percent higher. After 1990, while state government employment jumped 15 percent and our population grew by 9 percent, private sector job growth stopped-increasing by just 3 percent. After 1990, Hawaii’s poverty rate rose faster than that of any other state, and a higher share of Hawaii’s population left for other states than did the population of any other state.

Now we stand at the beginning of a new day. We are filled with hope. We know that no outside force or event is going to bless us the way Pacific wars and the jet plane helped us earlier. We know we are going to have to do it ourselves. And we will work hard to shape our own destiny. We will find the common ground that unites us, and for the benefit of Hawaii’s people, we will embrace change. Let’s do it, let’s do it together.

Mahalo.

Remarks by House Majority Leader-Opening of Hawaii's 22nd Legislature

0

“Scott Saiki Image”

Mr. Speaker, A tsunami of words Will roll over our ears during the next few months. I believe it is clear that we need to listen better and learn more to effectively lead this state. So allow me to start off with one thought: We get it.

The members of this House walked hundreds of miles during the past year, listening to the concerns of their neighbors, community leaders and the people in their districts. Again and again they heard a similar message. Voters want accountability in government and in their schools, and they want [results]. We get it.

The people of Hawaii want clean government — fair, honest and above board. With this last election, Hawaii stands at a crossroads. And it is worth considering just how we got here. Because right now, before we choose a path on which to travel, we should make an honest assessment of where we are.

Many people think the Democrats have gotten too comfortable. That we have been in power for too long. So they voted for change, and some of the people who voted for that change were Democrats too.

But I would like to emphasize one point. During the past four decades, we have led the path to fundamental change in Hawaii. We have transformed our state from a plantation-based economy to a forty billion dollar economy that rests upon technology, business, finance, tourism and agriculture, and employs over 570,000 people.

We have developed a public education system that now serves over 183,000 students. We have protected and continue to safeguard our air, water, and land for future generations. In making this change, we strove to advance economic and social equality for all.

This year, they must return to these roots. I’m not going to deliver a laundry list of proposals today. Instead, this year, we’re going to do a few things and do them well. And what we propose, we will achieve.

This House will introduce a fundamental change in campaign financing, freed from the influence of special friends with large checkbooks. We will ban government contractors from giving contributions to any candidate for public office, whether at the executive or legislative level.

We will introduce a new system to expedite school repair and maintenance and to put control of contracts into the hands of local schools where it belongs. We must provide a safe and comfortable learning environment so that our children will thrive.

We will launch a Community School Board Initiative to give parents, teachers, students and community leaders a greater voice in how their schools are run. But this House will also insist that major school reforms be tested and designed for full accountability. We know from experience that just because an idea sounds good, does not mean it is good.

Many of our communities are plagued by an epidemic of ice. It breaks up families, causes crime, and strips young people of their future. This is not a new problem for Hawaii, but it’s getting worse. Drug dealers must face swift and effective punishment. But for drug abusers, rehabilitation must play a greater role.

We must focus on prevention because prisons and tough laws alone will not eliminate the ice problem. We will establish community based rehabilitation centers and targeted law-enforcement teams to stop ice.

One hundred and ten years ago this week, Queen Liliuokalani was overthrown and Hawaiian home rule ended. Hawaiians have waited too long for this wrong to be righted. This House supports the rights of the native Hawaiian people and just as it did two years ago, will urge Congress to support legislation to achieve Hawaiian self-governance. We ask the governor to join us in encouraging Congress to take action now.

The Hawaiian people are taking charge of their own destiny. And this is what we all want — to be in charge of our own destinies. Just think about how this has helped make Hawaii great — ordinary people from all walks of life can make their mark here.

Mr. Speaker, this morning you have shared with us your vision for government that is accountable and gets results. We can do better, and we will do better. For all of us, the way to begin that journey is to stand at the crossroads and take a step on the right path, the path lined with our Democratic principles of fairness, equality, tolerance and opportunity.

When there is change at the top, people expect a new beginning. But we cannot build our future with a mere slogan. Our new beginning has a human face and it is already here in this chamber.

I would like to introduce the newest House Democrats and ask them to please stand: Representative Kirk Caldwell, Representative Cindy Evans, Representative Sol Kahoohalahala, Representative Jon Karamatsu, Representative Romy Mindo, Representative Scott Nishimoto, Representative Maile Shimabukuro, Representative Alex Sonson, Representative Tulsi Tamayo, Representative Glen Wakai, Representative Tommy Waters.

This is the new generation of Hawaii’s leaders. And Mr. Speaker, they get it too. Thank you.

Remarks by House Majority Leader-Opening of Hawaii’s 22nd Legislature

0

“Scott Saiki Image”

Mr. Speaker, A tsunami of words Will roll over our ears during the next few months. I believe it is clear that we need to listen better and learn more to effectively lead this state. So allow me to start off with one thought: We get it.

The members of this House walked hundreds of miles during the past year, listening to the concerns of their neighbors, community leaders and the people in their districts. Again and again they heard a similar message. Voters want accountability in government and in their schools, and they want [results]. We get it.

The people of Hawaii want clean government — fair, honest and above board. With this last election, Hawaii stands at a crossroads. And it is worth considering just how we got here. Because right now, before we choose a path on which to travel, we should make an honest assessment of where we are.

Many people think the Democrats have gotten too comfortable. That we have been in power for too long. So they voted for change, and some of the people who voted for that change were Democrats too.

But I would like to emphasize one point. During the past four decades, we have led the path to fundamental change in Hawaii. We have transformed our state from a plantation-based economy to a forty billion dollar economy that rests upon technology, business, finance, tourism and agriculture, and employs over 570,000 people.

We have developed a public education system that now serves over 183,000 students. We have protected and continue to safeguard our air, water, and land for future generations. In making this change, we strove to advance economic and social equality for all.

This year, they must return to these roots. I’m not going to deliver a laundry list of proposals today. Instead, this year, we’re going to do a few things and do them well. And what we propose, we will achieve.

This House will introduce a fundamental change in campaign financing, freed from the influence of special friends with large checkbooks. We will ban government contractors from giving contributions to any candidate for public office, whether at the executive or legislative level.

We will introduce a new system to expedite school repair and maintenance and to put control of contracts into the hands of local schools where it belongs. We must provide a safe and comfortable learning environment so that our children will thrive.

We will launch a Community School Board Initiative to give parents, teachers, students and community leaders a greater voice in how their schools are run. But this House will also insist that major school reforms be tested and designed for full accountability. We know from experience that just because an idea sounds good, does not mean it is good.

Many of our communities are plagued by an epidemic of ice. It breaks up families, causes crime, and strips young people of their future. This is not a new problem for Hawaii, but it’s getting worse. Drug dealers must face swift and effective punishment. But for drug abusers, rehabilitation must play a greater role.

We must focus on prevention because prisons and tough laws alone will not eliminate the ice problem. We will establish community based rehabilitation centers and targeted law-enforcement teams to stop ice.

One hundred and ten years ago this week, Queen Liliuokalani was overthrown and Hawaiian home rule ended. Hawaiians have waited too long for this wrong to be righted. This House supports the rights of the native Hawaiian people and just as it did two years ago, will urge Congress to support legislation to achieve Hawaiian self-governance. We ask the governor to join us in encouraging Congress to take action now.

The Hawaiian people are taking charge of their own destiny. And this is what we all want — to be in charge of our own destinies. Just think about how this has helped make Hawaii great — ordinary people from all walks of life can make their mark here.

Mr. Speaker, this morning you have shared with us your vision for government that is accountable and gets results. We can do better, and we will do better. For all of us, the way to begin that journey is to stand at the crossroads and take a step on the right path, the path lined with our Democratic principles of fairness, equality, tolerance and opportunity.

When there is change at the top, people expect a new beginning. But we cannot build our future with a mere slogan. Our new beginning has a human face and it is already here in this chamber.

I would like to introduce the newest House Democrats and ask them to please stand: Representative Kirk Caldwell, Representative Cindy Evans, Representative Sol Kahoohalahala, Representative Jon Karamatsu, Representative Romy Mindo, Representative Scott Nishimoto, Representative Maile Shimabukuro, Representative Alex Sonson, Representative Tulsi Tamayo, Representative Glen Wakai, Representative Tommy Waters.

This is the new generation of Hawaii’s leaders. And Mr. Speaker, they get it too. Thank you.

Remarks by House Speaker-Opening of Hawaii's 22nd Legislature

0

Calvin Say Image Honored guests, members, ladies and gentlemen. Aloha and welcome. The 22nd session of the Hawaii State Legislature convenes today with a mandate from the people for change. Our families and communities are being tested in ways that question our resolve and our ability to meet the challenges before us. All around us, the world seems on the brink of renewed chaos — the international scene threatens war, the American economy is faltering. More than 35 states, including our own, face wrenching budget decisions. The optimism of many of us has eroded. Our seniors are forced to keep working. Our most important institutions have been wracked by scandal. Corporate officers face indictment for fraud and theft, leaving their companies bankrupt and their employees facing ruin. Politicians have betrayed our trust seeking personal gain at the community’s expense. Our challenges appear far more difficult and even dangerous than they were just two years ago. In this time of turmoil, Hawaii voters made an historic decision. We elected the first woman as governor in our state’s history. The fact that she is also a Republican is not my concern. She is our governor — we need each other’s help, and we must find a way to work together to meet the challenges of our time. I speak to you today, not just as an elected leader, but as a citizen and a small businessman, a neighbor and a friend. We must not give up hope. The promise lies within each of us to create a better future for our children, but to do that, we must make tough decisions. First of all we must begin by recognizing that the days of asking, “What’s in it for me?” are over. We must forge a new partnership where each of us who is able carries a fair share of the load. We must find a way to continue to protect those among us who cannot help themselves. Many citizens have lost faith in government to do the right thing. We can begin to restore their trust by putting government on the same kind of performance standards that we are now asking of our children in school. That means that government sets objectives that are measurable, specific and achievable. When a government agency says a program will create better-paying jobs, people have a right to expect that promise to be kept. This session we will mandate new performance standards that ensure politicians and government agencies do not make promises they cannot keep. To help us achieve this goal, the auditor’s watchdog authority will be expanded. We will make sure that our own house is in order. Campaign finance reform will be a priority this session. Corporations and special interest groups cannot be allowed to use their campaign contributions to unduly influence the people’s business. And politicians who violate the people’s trust must know the consequences of that violation will be severe. We will put more decision-making power into the hands of the people we serve. Our communities have a right to a bigger say in how their schools are run. But at the same time we should be careful and not waste our time trying to reinvent the wheel. We can learn from the experience of other communities where district school boards were tried and failed. These experiments, which looked so good at the start, failed because they did not give the schools the one thing they need — accountability. And we already know that accountability is a significant problem for our schools. Just last week, a national survey ranked Hawaii schools as ninth lowest in the nation in terms of accountability. It should be clear to all of us by now — we can no longer accept status quo schools. We will propose significant reforms in school administration. These reforms will give our schools greater authority and flexibility, help them to obtain needed resources, and build and manage community support. Most important of all, these reforms will provide new standards for accountability. The state system of school repair and maintenance is woefully inadequate. This is one critical area where community-based decisions are the right way. Local schools know what needs to be fixed. Government should provide the resources and then get out of the way. We will pass legislation to allow schools to make their own contract decisions and speed up repair and maintenance. Parents and community members need a greater voice in the operation of their neighborhood schools. We will propose the establishment of a community-based school board initiative. Imagine what we can do if teachers, parents, administrators and students set their goals together. Passing a standardized test is not enough. We must teach our kids how to learn, and help them learn how to think. Sept. 11 taught us a lesson we can never forget — dependence on one industry or one resource is a dependence we can no longer afford. We must diversify our economic base and lessen our dependence on outside resources. When our nation was attacked, Hawaii’s economic engine took a direct hit. There are hopeful signs of recovery, and our hard work in the Special Session has produced some results, but Hawaii’s economy has not fully recovered. If our nation goes to war, defense spending in Hawaii will decrease, That is a real possibility and it must strengthen our resolve to diversify Hawaii’s job base. We must act to help local business improve job retention. Existing small businesses are the backbone of our economy. We must help them grow. To help in this effort, we will propose a targeted job creation tax initiative. This measure will help diversify our industries, and encourage outside businesses to bring new jobs to Hawaii. Tax incentives can be a vital part of an overall economic strategy, but the people and companies who use them must also be held to a standard. New credit programs must undergo regular financial checkups and be held accountable for results. The Tax Review Commission’s recent report to the Legislature is right on track. We believe its recommendations are a solid base on which to build tax incentives for our New Economy. It is important that all of us understand one thing — economic development is not a business agenda, it is a way to accomplish Hawaii’s social goals: *Quality, affordable health care for the sick and elderly; *A healthy environment for our children to grow up in; *Higher-paying jobs to help support our families; *Social equality for all of Hawaii’s citizens; and *The preservation of values built into our host culture. The ultimate goal of economic development is to benefit our people. We must shape our economic development in a way that’s right for us, not special interests or the very wealthy. Today in our nation’s capital, old thinking rules the administration’s policies. These worn-out ideas propose enormous tax cuts for the very rich while the national deficit begins climbing toward historic highs. Once again, we are borrowing on our children’s future. These same tired ideas come from a president who believes the elimination of dividend taxes will ignite the next economic boom. These measures are sure to bring happy days to the White House, but they will not put food on our tables or fix a school’s leaky roof. What the Republican administration in Washington fails to realize is our critical need for a comprehensive domestic strategy. Even people who worked for this administration say it has no domestic policy. Instead, it focuses on its foreign affairs agenda and manages the home front with public relations tactics and Republican programs that benefit the wealthy. Let’s look at the facts. The latest analysis of Federal Reserve data shows that 85 percent of the stocks in this country are owned by the very rich. The president says if we help these people, the rest of us will benefit later on. Twenty years ago, they called that “trickle-down” economics. Given our current budget situation, we may not have enough time to wait for the trickle. We believe we have a better idea — an idea that focuses on our future here in Hawaii, a future that is built by increasing the knowledge base of our economy through research, education, skills and technical innovation. We believe the
most effective way of managing this future is through partnerships between government and local enterprises. Government will do a better job if it engages in these partnerships as a facilitator and not a regulator. Our businesses, schools and non-profits need a significant infusion of technology to compete in this knowledge-based economy. We cannot accomplish this alone. Together, with the help of private partnerships, we can achieve greater efficiency and measurable results. In 1881, King David Kalakaua and his Attorney General turned to one of the most brilliant minds in history. The King asked a man named Edison to study the possibility of using power from Hawaii’s volcanoes to produce electricity to light Hawaii’s homes. It was more than 80 years after the King’s discussion with Edison that Hawaii began geothermal exploration. Today, geothermal energy provides almost 20 percent of energy needs on the Island of Hawaii. And still, there are small and vocal groups that would like to turn back the clock. We can no longer afford to ignore an energy source that is in our own backyard. The time has come to face a hard truth about Hawaii’s energy needs — imported oil supplies 90 percent of Hawaii’s energy. No place else in the United States is so critically dependent on imported oil. Unlike the mainland, Hawaii cannot turn to neighboring states to make up for any temporary or permanent energy shortages. Unlike the mainland, imported oil is the single thread that can completely unravel Hawaii’s future. Geothermal can be a bigger part of our energy future, but so must other alternative energy sources. We are blessed with abundant sunlight, but few of Hawaii government buildings take advantage of solar power. We can do better. This year, we will extend renewable energy tax credits because we know they work. And we will begin a program to mandate the conversion of public buildings to solar energy resources. Just this month, Hawaiian Electric announced a promising new program with a $10 million investment in alternative energy development. This is a promising first step. But we can do more. We will speed up this process by seeking a statewide energy audit. The people of Hawaii are counting on you, Gov. Lingle, to lay out a compelling agenda in your State of the State address. But even your most avid supporters concede that dramatic breakthroughs may be difficult. I have great hopes for the governor. And I have great hopes for Hawaii’s lawmakers. Working together, we can meet the challenges of our time. I also appreciate our new governor’s efforts to help with the issue of interim payment of revenues to the Office of Hawaiian Affairs. However, we have found a way to resolve this issue expeditiously without having to go further through the legislative process. Over the last several weeks, the Chair of OHA, together with legal counsel, and the Chair and Vice-chair of the Hawaiian Affairs Committee, worked out a solution. Haunani Apoliona, Ezra Kanoho, Sol Kahoohalahala, through your efforts our obligations to the Hawaiian people will be fulfilled. $10.3 million in deferred payment will be made. Members, on your desk is a small gift from me. It is a symbol of what we can accomplish together. The bamboo plant is an ancient Chinese symbol of strength and good fortune The empty center of the stem represents a virtuous person with an open mind. The bamboo thrives because it is flexible. I hope we can be like this too — flexible, but strong. Aloha and mahalo.

Remarks by the House Republican Leader-Opening of Hawaii's 22nd Legislature

0

Galen Fox Image Aloha Kakahiaka. It’s a beautiful morning. Isn’t it a beautiful day in Hawaii nei? Some of you, like me, remember when Hawaii was a territory. You remember when we were second class citizens, left out of the promise America offered residents of the 48 states. Then one bright morning, the door opened, and the nation welcomed us in. Hawaii became a state. What a beautiful day. Hawaii was then an exciting place filled with hope. The last territorial Legislature glowed from the creative sparks produced by rubbing new ideas against old. Republicans and Democrats were all involved, a Republican governor, a Democratic Legislature, together generating change that enlarged Hawaii’s role in the nation, and embraced our entire population. Now, today, such a beautiful day has come again. We have a new governor. The windows have been thrown open. The fresh breeze of change is blowing through our collective home. Once again, after an absence of 40 years, no matter what your party, Hawaii has a place for you. Fifty-one representatives feel the joy that comes from being part of solutions that involve Republicans, Democrats, and all Hawaii standing together. The solutions we crave are those that help people find jobs. All of us want more jobs for Hawaii’s people. It’s the lack of jobs that is forcing families apart, and sending our friends to the mainland. Most transplanted ex-Hawaii residents would rather be home, if they could make a decent living here. We need jobs. All of us want not just jobs, but better paying jobs for Hawaii’s people. The “price of paradise” is a real problem here. Hawaii’s cost of living is 22 percent above the national average; only the Bay Area is more expensive. Yet our wages are barely above the national average. We have an income gap that makes it hard to live here. To have better paying jobs, we need to take Hawaii into the knowledge-based economy. For that, Hawaii’s people need a good public education system. Reforming public education has to be one of this Legislature’s top priorities. To seize our future, we must improve public education now — we need action, not studies. The road ahead remains difficult. But we know that real change comes from Republicans and Democrats, business, labor, and government, working side-by-side to get the job done. History has led us to this remarkable January 2003 morning. At the dawn of the territorial era, 100 years ago, James Dole brought the pineapple industry here. It was the last time Hawaii, on its own, generated a major new industry. Pearl Harbor, World War II, Korea, and Vietnam gave us the defense industry, a boon to our economy that owed little to our own initiative. And so it was with tourism, which grew Hawaii through statehood’s first three decades. Tourism thrived because of outside forces — the jet plane, the jumbo jet, mainlanders discovering the neighbor islands, and finally Japanese tourism and investment. It all came so easily. We were freed from the discipline of having to work together to make our own future. Since the Japanese bubble burst in 1990, we have been searching for a new path to prosperity. After 1990, tourism stopped growing. After 1990, Hawaii family income dropped 15 percent in relation to the rest of the country, from 21 percent higher to only 6 percent higher. After 1990, while state government employment jumped 15 percent and our population grew by 9 percent, private sector job growth stopped-increasing by just 3 percent. After 1990, Hawaii’s poverty rate rose faster than that of any other state, and a higher share of Hawaii’s population left for other states than did the population of any other state. Now we stand at the beginning of a new day. We are filled with hope. We know that no outside force or event is going to bless us the way Pacific wars and the jet plane helped us earlier. We know we are going to have to do it ourselves. And we will work hard to shape our own destiny. We will find the common ground that unites us, and for the benefit of Hawaii’s people, we will embrace change. Let’s do it, let’s do it together. Mahalo.