• Name: Lynn Berbano Finnegan
• Current job: State Representative, Dist. 32
• Residence: How long you’ve lived in the district: Iʻve lived on the mainland for 3 years and 36 years in Hawai`i.
• 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?
With eight years in the House of Representatives and five as Minority Leader, coupled with my broad experience in the private, business sector, I have the experience to be an effective Lieutenant Governor. I understand the issues and the politics, and have a strong foundation in the private sector to know that government doesn’t solve problems, but people and business do when given the room to flourish.
I previously served as a parent board member for Voyager Public Charter school, where both my children have attended. This on-the-ground perspective into our public school system, coupled with the broad perspective gained as a legislator, has contributed to my desire to bring true reform to our public education system. It is important that our public education system puts its primary customers first: students and families. We must ensure that 90-100% of the budget for the Dept. of Education is controlled by school communities, not to the DOE central offices. Finally, I believe we must give parents meaningful choices by adding more public charter schools statewide and giving them equal funding.
Prior to entering public service, I worked as a Senior Loan Originator for Primary Residential Mortgage. Having seen first hand what theses individuals and businesses are experiencing and how many are struggling to make ends meet, I understand how important it is to lower the cost of living for Hawaii’s families, individuals and businesses. We must help businesses by eliminating burdensome “red tape” and ensure that Hawaii-based businesses don’t just survive, but thrive. Government can help by implementing small business preference in state purchasing of services and goods and decreasing excessive regulation, taxes, and fees on small businesses, which are Hawaii’s backbone. I understand that small business is big business in Hawaii.
Finally, as a mother, I have a vested interest in Hawaii’s future and will do all I can to build a stronger, brighter future for our keiki. My broad experience in both the public and private sectors make me the best possible candidate for Lt. Governor of the great state of Hawaii.
• Major issues: What are the biggest issue in your district/state and your proposed solutions?
I believe the biggest challenge facing Hawaii is the lack of balance in our government leadership. Today we have a legislative branch of government led by Democrats; who hold nearly 95% of all elected offices. This type of imbalance is unhealthy, no matter which party is in control.
I’m running for Lt. Governor because I believe we must keep Republican leadership in the Executive Branch in order to have a balanced and honest government for all the people of Hawaii. As running mate to Duke Aiona in the bid for the 5th floor this November, I am confident the GOP will have a strong, well-respected ticket so we can continue to serve the people of Hawaii and provide balanced leadership in the State Capitol.
Without a Republican Governor and Lt. Governor for the last eight years, we would have at least an additional $600 million hole to make up in our State budget; we wouldn’t have lower fees and quicker online business processes; we wouldn’t have the short-term success and long-term planning in the areas of major state infrastructures like airports, highways, and harbors; we would have even higher taxes then we already have; we wouldn’t be a model for energy security and self-sufficiency; we wouldn’t have had new, updated pet quarantine laws; we wouldn’t have more assistance for those most in need, especially for our homeless families and children in need of foster care; and we wouldn’t be a leader in innovation and robotics education.
These are just a few of the examples of how a Republican leadership in the Executive branch of government has better served the people of Hawaii.
These types of true reform come about through healthy debate with a diverse set of leaders and strong respect for colleagues, no matter what political ideology they represent.
I am running for Lt. Gov not to just “check” my colleagues across the aisle. I hope to reach out to them to help get them to understand that you deserve to keep more for your money. You deserve an accountable, efficient, and responsible government.
Balance in your government leadership will ensure topics are fully discussed and evaluated from different perspectives before being enacted.
• 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?
Government has to live within its means. Hawaii residents already pay among the highest taxes in the nation. Instead of raising taxes as the answer to every challenge, it is critical that state government undergo a full paradigm shift: begin placing Hawaii residents ahead of bureaucracy.
My budget philosophy centers on the ideal that we cannot continue to increase the tax burden on our residents and businesses. As we evaluate the core services provided by government and seek necessary reductions to meet our state budget needs, government should consider partnering with the private and non-profit sectors for more efficient services.
Unfortunately, Democrats in the Legislature have successfully increased Hawaii’s taxes over this past year. Perhaps the broadest reaching tax increase was the barrel tax, which increases the tax on a barrels of petroleum products from 5 cents per barrel to a whopping $1.05. Passed under the guise that the proceeds would support environmental response and encourage our reduced dependency on foreign oil, the actual ramifications will mean that more than $22 million per year taken from Hawaii residents pocketbooks, without any substantial changes to the State’s energy independence and food security goals. Meanwhile, nearly everything our families purchase – from a gallon of gas for your vehicle to a gallon of milk – will likely see an increased purchase price. As House Minority Leader, I am proud to stay I voted against this regressive barrel tax.
As our residents’ grapple with these drastic increases to their monthly budgets, our state’s number one industry, tourism, must work to counter the multiple disincentives placed by the State Legislature on visitors to Hawaii. Despite Governor Lingle’s veto last session on the transient accommodations tax (TAT) or hotel room tax, the additional tax on Hawaii hotel rooms will skyrocket from 1 percentage point to 9.25 percent. As state representative, I voted against the TAT increase and against the override of the Governor’s veto.
I voted against each of these tax and fee increases because I believe Hawaii residents already carry a heavy enough burden, evidenced by our rank as one of the most heavily taxed states in the nation. I voted against these tax and fee increases because I believe government must live within it’s means.
• 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?
See above response.
• Rail: If the city has difficulty raising enough revenue for the rail, would you support state tax support for the rail project?
I voted against the GET surcharge in 2005. I am against the current rail transit project, which will not be operational for another 4-5 years. The initial cost projections from August 2009 are outdated and are already too expensive for the state to incur. Additionally, this multi-billion dollar project will not alleviate Oahu’s traffic challenges. We cannot allow the costs of building and maintaining rail to be the burden of future generations.
• Legalized Gambling: Do you believe gambling should be legalized in Hawaii in any form and if so, in what form?
Every few years, especially during times of economic downturn and a drop in our tourism numbers, the issue of legalized gambling rises in the Legislature and the community. I have remained consistent in my opposition to legalizing gambling in Hawaii. My primary reason for opposing what many say could be a revenue enhancer for the state is that I believe this type of activity doesn’t address the root problem of government overspending. Instead of evaluating government costs with a fine-toothed comb, many legislators are content to develop an “easy way out” by legalizing gambling. This new disguised tax would be regressive and disproportionally burden the desperate, addicted and less fortunate.
I believe the addition of gambling to Hawaii’s tourism industry would do little to drive new or different visitors to our islands. Instead of focusing on gambling as a means to increase tourism, I believe we must focus on the health of our overall visitor industry, which contributes almost 20% of our gross domestic product. Specifically, it will be important for Hawaii to update the State Strategic Tourism Plan, and continue to pursue and develop new and emerging markets like Korea and China while maintaining visitor arrivals from the U.S. mainland. Hawaii is one of the few visitor destinations without gambling. Gambling would not constitute a major draw for our visitors.
As we seek to enhance revenue for our state, we must not lose site of our culture and the need to “keep Hawaii Hawaii.” Gambling has not and should not be a part of our state’s make-up. Instead, we must focus on those things which make Hawaii unique, including our state’s natural and pristine beauty and our world-renowned aloha spirit.
• 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?
I think an appointed board could provide more accountability in our educational system. If school communities were able to make many of their own decisions you could then hold them accountable for the results. Like many of the Public Charter Schools, adjustments could be made to fund what is important for the student. Public Charter Schools showed this when 16 out of the 31 Public Charter Schools had no furlough fridays. This is why 90% of education spending should be controlled at the school-level. We should also provide equal funding for public charter schools and allow the addition of more charters.
• Economic Growth: What are your plans to promote long-term economic growth for Hawaii?
We must stimulate our economy through private sector job creation by creating incentives for investors to choose Hawaii as well as incentives for local businesses to hire residents off the unemployment roles. For long-term growth, we must focus on cutting red tape for businesses, developing private sector solutions, and lowering taxes on Hawaii businesses and residents.
• Crime: What is your solution to making Oahu a safer place to live and visit?
I believe in tougher laws against criminals and more freedom regarding Second Amendment issues. I also believe that we should partner with our communities. It is when communities take ownership for quality of life issues that we will see success.
• 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 support more freedom for law-abiding firearms owners.
• Homeless: What is your solution to homelessness?
I believe the best way to address the homeless is through partnerships with religious institutions and non-profits.
• 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?
I understand that the COFA specifically states the return of Micronesians if they are unable to sustain themselves in Hawai`i. Our federal government should send Micronesians back if they are living on government assistance.
• 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?
While I support the continuation of certain benefits and programs for our Hawaiian people, I do not support the concept of a nation within a nation. We are the United States of America.
• 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?
This is a federal issue but I would support increased opportunities for competition in the shipping industry that benefits the people of Hawaii. The cost of living is too high causing family members to leave for the mainland including my own brothers and sisters. Reduced shipping costs would result in a lower cost of living for all the people of Hawaii.
• Endorsements you would like to list:
*Hawaii Christian Coalition
*Hawaii Right to Life
*Aloha Family Alliance
*David Barton, of Wall Builders, a national pro-family organization
*Former Congresswoman Pat Saiki
*Business leader and philanthropist John Henry Felix
*State Senator Fred Hemmings
*State Representative Barbara Marumoto
*State Representative Cynthia Thielen
*Former Hawaii GOP Chairman, Brennon Morioka
*War hero and GOP Supporter, U.S. Navy (ret) Capt. Jerry Coffee
• Any additional comments:
My inspiration for public service stems from the history which I learned from my immigrant parents and the future I want for my two children. This dual focus shapes every decision I make as a legislator and will continue during my service as Lt. Governor. As the daughter and granddaughter of immigrants from the Philippines, I have heard the stories of how my grandfather sacrificed his life during war world II to protect his family from enemy capture, what my father strived for and sacrificed to reach America, and what my family experienced as I was brought home as an infant to Kuhio Park Terrace and then they worked 7 days a week to buy a townhome in Waianae where I grew up. I consider it an incredible blessing that my husband, Honolulu Fire Department Captain Peter Finnegan, and I are now able to own our home in Aiea. The sacrifices my immigrant family saw in pursuit of liberty and freedom is my inspiration to better life for all the people of Hawaii and ensure the brightest future for our keiki.
Mail: P.O. Box 1420, Aiea, HI 96701
Web site address: lynnfinnegan.com
Campaign Slogan or Theme (optional): Lynn Finnegan. Real. Bold. Leadership.