2010 LEGISLATIVE CANDIDATE QUESTIONS
Name: Garner Musashi Shimizu
Current job: Co-Owner and Vice President , Master Sheet Metal
Residence: How long you’ve lived in the district: 43 years
Background: What qualifies you for the position? What else have you run for? Have you been in public office before and if so, what position? This is the first time I’ve run or will hold a public office. My 30 years of engineering training, business experience and leadership allows me to bring extensive analytical and problem solving skills to managing complex processes and completing projects within time and budget. I have been responsible for 60 employees, and I’ve always committed myself to providing customers and employees exceptional service and leadership. I’m confident I can bring a fresh, new practical perspective to the State House.
Major issues: What are the biggest issue in your district/state and your proposed solutions? At the state level our government affects every aspect and the quality, of our lives. I want to bring a more businesslike and an outside the government box approach to resolve issues we face in our economy, our education system, and the overall efficiency and effectiveness of our government.
1) Government is responsible to balance the budget by eliminating waste and reducing spending before raising taxes;
2) Complete review of systems and processes to remove duplication within departments and overlaps with the City Counties; identify other inefficiencies to improve, revise, or reduce;
3) Before any law or regulation is enacted, the economic impact should be fairly calculated and disclosed publicly;
4) Government should not perform functions which are better and less expensively performed by individuals or private organizations. Government should not be in business to compete with private enterprise;
5) “If” increases are absolutely necessary, change House Rules to require a super-majority vote to pass all tax and cost of living increases;
6) Require full transparency in the legislative process and eliminate back room deals, by requiring the “Sunshine Law” apply to the State Legislature (as it currently applies to all of the County Councils);
7) Term Limits: Restricts the number of years an elected official may serve and acts as a means to control the accumulation and abuse of power, and allows for new solutions, ideas, and energy from new people.
At the local level, we need to improve public safety, reduce crime, and complete the remaining Salt Lake Blvd widening project.
Budget philosophy: What is your budget philosophy? Do you foresee increases in revenue through tax hikes and fees or do you believe in cutting spending? Our state budget is the same as many others, it exists because money comes in (taxes) and decisions are made about how money is spent (services). When the amount going out exceeds what is coming in we hit debt. To correct this, we analyze where we stand and make new decisions about our income and spending. Transparency in Hawaii’s finances is paramount. Initially, we need to take a hard, honest look at two areas: 1) all funding supporting special interests and anything not providing transparent services and 2) how effectively our processes and procedures are which manage our budget overall. The security and safety of our citizens, students and visitors is not negotiable and must be funded within our resources.
Taxes and fees: Do you believe Hawaii’s taxes should be lowered or increased? If you do plan to raise taxes and fees, which specific taxes or fees would you increase? Or would you sign a pledge that says you will not raise taxes? Regarding taxation we must use tremendous caution. Increasing general excise tax translates into greater cost to all of us consumers. Though taxes are necessary in managing our state’s finances, government is responsible to balance the budget by eliminating waste and reducing spending–before raising taxes. Before any law or regulation is voted on, the economic impact must be calculated fairly and disclosed publically. Our state will not be healthy until we function outside of debt.
Rail: If the city has difficulty raising enough revenue for the rail, would you support state tax support for the rail project? My initial response is no. I favor the rail system “if” we have sufficient funding for the first cost construction, usage and income supports ongoing maintenance costs, the development around the stations stimulates the economy positively without adversely affecting the neighborhoods, and the improvement in the traffic condition is significant enough to justify this venture. However if the benefits and rewards do not outweigh the costs and risks, which are passed on to the people, then this project is not viable. By adding a tax to keep alive an enormous financial undertaking only further burdens our residents and creates a more financially unstable future for our children to inherit. Wanting too quickly the short/mid-term benefits we see the rail can provide appears to be heading toward many unintended long-term consequences. We need a better plan.
Legalized Gambling: Do you believe gambling should be legalized in Hawaii in any form and if so, in what form? No. Though I do not oppose all gambling, I strongly question reliance on its use in financing government. For-profit gambling may start out as enjoyment but has its roots in chance. Research shows gambling can increase revenue but it also introduces many unwanted negatives that have a profound adverse effect on our social economic systems. We must promote healthy, stable means for us to live in our communities, conduct business and financially govern our state. Relying on hard-work, integrity and ethical achievement, and building character in our people, especially our youth, will lead us into a more secure future.
Public Education: What are your plans to support the public education system while ensuring accountability and results for our students? Do you support an appointed or elected school board? Require a comprehensive financial and management audit of the Dept. of Education. We need to ensure that 90% of our DOE budget is reaching our children’s classrooms and that available resources are having the maximum beneficial impact on student outcomes, by revising the budgeting processes so money goes first to the schools then to management, and not vice versa the way it is now. This is vitally important for the well-being of our students, teachers and schools. Provide extra funding to schools which implement innovative learning programs and improve test scores. Implement performance-based salaries for teachers so those who perform well are rewarded with increased pay.
I support an appointed school board with reservations. We would need sufficient input and discussion with all shareholders so conditions would be established that would address the most important concerns.
Economic Growth: What are your plans to promote long-term economic growth for Hawaii?
Job Creation: Provide tax credits for companies who manufacture and export products from Hawaii. Economic growth could be enhanced also by promoting locally-grown products, utilizing agricultural land for locally-consumed produce.
Provide healthcare cost reimbursements to small businesses who hire new employees. Encourage the creation of new businesses by reducing start-up costs and burdensome regulations.
Alternative Energy & Conservation: Provide photo voltaic and solar systems for homeowners and small businesses with no upfront installation costs. Program is funded through floating state bonds and repaid over 20 year amortization period through shared energy cost savings. Energy research and waste disposal enterprises could be enhanced.
Education: We must ensure our education system provides our citizens skills necessary for excelling in the local and global marketplace. Increase vocational training opportunities through internships with businesses and non-profit organizations. Also, create job pathways for recent college and high school graduates before they leave school in order to give them a solid entrance into the work force.
Continue improvements for Hawaii tourism. We also must improve the way our government functions: creating operational transparency; improving processes and services; cutting where needed and adding new, smarter, and better programs and services where needed.
Crime: What is your solution to making Oahu a safer place to live and visit? Improving our economy can help here. We must fully support our local law enforcement and address the causes of crime, and processes for prosecuting crime. I believe we need severe penalties for serious offenders and stronger penalties for minor offenses. Each of us has a role in creating a drug-free Hawaii. We also need to examine the demographics of our prison populations to identify root causes and reduce the factors that cause certain populations to resort to crime. One important component that seems to be overlooked is developing a culture of honor and aloha. We need to focus on providing training in relational skills to help people value each other, to work out conflict management, and achieve self control.
Second Amendment: Would you support concealed carry or more freedom for law abiding firearms owners, do you feel the current laws should remain in place, or do you believe stricter gun laws should be in place? I initially don’t see reason to expand our current law.
Homeless: What is your solution to homelessness? First, taking leadership in getting a complete assessment from all of the shareholders that are involved in this problem – the many federal and state department and agencies, city halls, businesses, private organizations, charities, and the homeless community – to get a better and hopefully complete understanding of the situation, your teammates and resources. Identify the various issues, problems and challenges. Research and communicate with other institutions to see if they have successful methods or programs that we can model or learn from.
Then coordinate work by organizing and developing a plan of action. Delegate responsibility among the team members, and implement the plan. Meet regularly to provide accountability, assess the progress, make necessary adjustments and corrections, and continue to move forward to see how we can continue to work together more efficiently and effectively.
Possible ideas can include providing land on which special construction type structures may be built to provide secure housing. Additionally provide tax incentives to private enterprises involved in both the construction process, and implementing programs that would aid in recovery for those who need counseling and rehabilitation to overcome issues that hinder them from obtaining sustained employment, or integrating into society. I would also target educational programs that focus on improving our people’s belief in themselves, and developing understanding of their personal responsibility to be accountable for the consequences of their actions.
Reduce the size of the homeless community and prevent it from growing. Focus utilizing Hawaii’s local industry to be involved in projects. Good work is being done here. The federal government is aiding Hawaii with $20 million in this effort.
Compact with Micronesia: Micronesians are able to freely move to Hawaii, which they are doing in large numbers to take advantage of the public education system, medical services and other government benefits. But the governor and other public officials say they are taxing Hawaii’s resources and costing the state more than $100 million a year. This is a federal decision, but would you share your view on whether the Compact with Micronesia should remain in place, should there be some parameters put on the Compact or do you have other solutions? Helping each other is always a good thing. However we need to find ways to prevent abuse to the current policies and address how to make this agreement better and fair for all without increasing unfair burden on residents of Hawaii.
Akaka Bill: What is your position on the Akaka Bill? Do you believe it will unite or divide Hawaii? What is your vision for how the Akaka Bill will change Hawaii? I applaud and support the bill’s intent to rectify justifiable concerns of native Hawaiians. However, I understand the bill in its current form may not be thoroughly complete and needs revision, or possibly we need a new bill altogether. In order to support, I would need to know specifically the overall ramifications of how this bill would affect us financially, socially, and otherwise.
Jones Act: Opponents of the federal Jones Act say it increases the cost of living in Hawaii through a shipping duopoly while supporters say it is needed to ensure port security and American jobs. While this is a federal decision, would you share your view on whether you support an exemption for Hawaii from the Jones Act or should it remain in place? I believe the overall purpose of this law is good and needed for our safety, security and to fairly balance U.S. employment. We do need to address any causes for Hawaiian residents to be financially burdened beyond what other states are asked to do through this law. I am interested to learn what specific areas we can improve for our state concerning the Jones Act and working to make those changes happen.
Endorsements you would like to list: None at this time.
Any additional comments: As we approach another season of selecting leaders for our community, please take time to register and vote. The more we understand the great blessings of how our community and government work, and share in that process, the better we can achieve the goals we all want for a brighter Hawaii.
Phone: (808) 839-1790
Mail: PO Box 19123, Honolulu, HI 96817
Web site address: www.voteshimizu.com