Current job: Business owner, community volunteer
Residence: How long you’ve lived in the district: 15 years
Background: What qualifies you for the position? 30 year resident of the state, 15 years in the district, 7 years as a Kailua Neighborhood Board member plus other community volunteer work, including the Junior League of Honolulu and the Dave Lyman Memorial Foundation. Owned and operated my own businesses, worked with many state and Federal agencies in permitting and land leases issues for my businesses, own a home and raised a family in Kailua, previously worked as a Chief Officer in the US Merchant Marine.
What else have you run for? No other office.
Have you been in public office before and if so, what position? No
Major issues: What are the biggest issue in your district/state and your proposed solutions? Statewide the biggest issue is the bad economy and lack of jobs. My solution is to invigorate the economy through tax incentives, tax cuts across the board, improving the small business climate through deregulation. The next statewide issue is the lack of government spending accountability. First I will support an audit of the DoE. Second I would promote mandatory line item accounting of all State funds that are awarded as grants and contracts by the recipient. This would be a simple bookkeeping task by the recipient that would shed a great deal of light on where the funds are actually going. In Senate District 25 development is always a forefront issue. We must balance business development and job growth with the preservation of Ag lands and residential communities.
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? My philosophy is simply no new taxes or fees for individuals or businesses and I have signed the National “Taxpayer Protection Pledge”(www.atr.org). In the 2011 legislative session budgetary discussions should be entirely about “decreasing” monies spent today. Every agency should submit a rough baseline budget of what their agency needs to function each year at a minimum. Any non-essential funds should be deducted for the next budgetary phase. Though some of this is already underway our state government must continue to see, feel, and thus understand what each household has had to do since the downturn of our economy in 2008.
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?
Yes, I have signed the national “pledge”(please see above). Taxes should be immediately lowered across the board for individuals and businesses. Our immediate tax revenue collections will initially decrease, but collections will steadily see an overall gain, as was witnessed by historical tax schemes under the Reagan Administration. This will also bring about an increase in economic activity throughout our state. Small businesses (the backbone of our national economy)and new potential investors MUST see a reason to ‘invest’ which in turn will lead to increased hiring, decreased unemployment, and greater tax collections at the state and county levels.
Rail: If the city has difficulty raising enough revenue for the rail, would you support state tax support for the rail project? Absolutely not. The City and County of Oahu committed itself to the largest capital improvement project in history. They did so with the understanding they would receive federal funds to support its construction. Yet I am very concerned about the real financial feasibility of this project due to the drastic economic downturn. The last thing we need is another “big government stimulus plan” or another “bail out”, in Hawaii’s case, of an ailing construction industry.
Legalized Gambling: Do you believe gambling should be legalized in Hawaii in any form and if so, in what form? Onshore: NO, but now is the time to look at new ways to improve and attract tourism business and I think that an offshore scenario may be answer. I have a detailed plan that allows for a “trial” period for offshore gambling aboard a cruise ship. This removes the blight feared by many, of having casinos in Waikiki or other resort areas. I too, share this concern. Permitted gambling by a vessel on a limited trial basis, operating from Honolulu harbor for a fixed period of time (5 years), would allow a vessel operator and the state to actually see what type of revenue stream might be seen under this type of program. Many cruise ship and tour operators say that their clients want this option in their vacation cruise experience and the added visitors would impact all of the tourism industry. Revenue from gambling receipts will initially be used for DOT-Harbor improvements only. Since the vessel will create new demands on the harbor infrastructure, it should in turn support maintenance, improvements, and repair of the same infrastructure. The permitted vessel operator/owner will make all the investments in bringing a suitable ship to Hawaii. No expense or investment will be borne by Hawaii taxpayers. If the program is successful, the shipowner will be guaranteed an opportunity to renew his permit. Other permits may be allowed at Honolulu harbor (limited in number) and similarly, for each county/island. If program does not work or is not profitable, shipowner may leave for better opportunities elsewhere and is not bound to continuing program at a loss. Applicants for a permit must meet specific criteria that demonstrate prior gambling operations and experience elsewhere. Ultimately, legislators can determine at the end of a 5 year trial, where revenue can go, depending “how much” has actually been realized. I do not support gambling in the State under any other circumstances.
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 believe the Director of the Board of Education should be appointed by the governor, subject to a list of “approved and qualified” applicants that are submitted by the state Senate. This will ensure that the administration will be held accountable for the appointments and have the ability to remove appointees for lack of performance. The DOE should be audited immediately, to assess as accurately as possible, where their funds go. After the completion of an audit, a “zero-based” budget should be created to determine at a minimum what is absolutely needed for a minimum annual operation. Non-essentials shall be cut from all programs. Ultimately, I believe that each county should be managing schools within their districts, with state financial support. The state DOE needs to be dismantled, counties need to manage their schools and to be held accountable for their operation. As the counties accept a phased in program of responsibility, the state should phase out its oversight. State taxes should be decreased (as the state’s portion of DOE management winds down), as residents see their county taxes rise to fund, support their newly organized school system.
Economic Growth: What are your plans to promote long-term economic growth for Hawaii? To lower overall taxes for individuals and businesses. To better educate voters that more government programs and higher taxes are the biggest roadblocks to economic growth and expansion. Create a better education system within the state, from kindergarten through college, so that future employers have a base of educated and “employable” people to use in their businesses. We need to start expanding vocational schools or programs within existing schools that teach (and provide continuing educational improvements) skills such as welding, carpentry, electrical, plumbing, and other non-college type work skills for local residents. Abolishing multiple state, county, and federal bureaucracy hurdles for investors, to attract new businesses. This includes permit issuance based more heavily on scientific evidence instead of unfounded special interest fears. Create a new state office where all investors and business developers can go to for “one-stop” shop information on business start-up requirements, legal criteria, permitting resolution, etc. We need to continue to streamline and simplify the ‘process’ of getting into business and staying in business
Crime: What is your solution to making Oahu a safer place to live and visit? The state and counties should continue to support funding all public safety agencies at current levels. Current budgets should allow for programs and employment to continue, but until the economy picks-up, ‘new equipment’ purchases should be minimized or eliminated. The police and prosecutors office need to continue to work together and to provide legislators a proposal or package of anti-crime laws that are BOTH enforceable for police and allow for prosecutors to put repeat offenders away. The state should continue to put prisoners with long sentences and hard crimes in prisons on the mainland. Criminals with lighter sentences and minor crimes can be housed in Hawaii’s jails. Better drug treatment programs should be implemented to ‘prevent’ these type of drug related crimes from occurring or their expansion. We must also look at the current armed home invasion laws, which are on the rise, and make it easier to prosecute these crimes.
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 do not support any more rigid controls for gun ownership. Hawaii already has more controls than most other states. I believe no new laws are necessary. I believe a “concealed carry permit” for selective individuals, subject to rigid performance criteria and gun training and education, with frequent and repeated permit renewals, should be allowed. Home invasion laws should be revamped to allow the homeowner to exercise their Second Amendment right in their own home to protect life and property.
Homeless: What is your solution to homelessness? This is a multi-faceted problem that requires a very common sense approach. People that live out in the open do so for various reasons and generally fall into these three categories: #1. Willing and able but cannot find work or afford housing on their income. For these people I would find a way to match willing and able workers with both government and private sector jobs, and assist through incentives with temporary housing. #2. Mentally or physically unable to work, hold a job, or find housing. For these I would provide housing and other help as needed because they cannot help themselves. #3. Unwilling to find work, hold a job, or find housing and living “homeless” out of category. For these I would simply enforce the laws on the books regarding camping or squatting on on public or private property. Our existing social services could should be used to asses individual situations. The biggest problem though, in this ever growing situation is that each of these types need to be dealt with differently, but today almost all are being dealt with the same, or not at all.
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? Our congressional delegation should move to pass federal legislation that mandates Hawaii to be reimbursed for an equivalent amount of funds expended each year to absorb Micronesians into our state. If this effort fails, then a bill to eliminate the compact or modify its terms should be proposed. Finally, if all else fails, then the State of Hawaii should NOT be allowed as a “port of entry” for Micronesians. Those individuals who wish to “enter” the US should be required to do so from west coast cities on the continental US.
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 have not been able to keep up with the various versions of the proposed bill. My understanding is that the latest version that has been negotiated by various individuals within Washington DC is clearly not a bill that most Native Hawaiians support. I view this as more divisiveness.
I would consider supporting any version of the Akaka bill that is supported by the majority of all of Hawaii’s citizens. But a bill in that form has never been proposed to voters in our state. I cannot support a bill that most residents do not even understand or are unaware of its consequences. I understand the frustration of the Native Hawaiian community. My part Hawaiian husband, like many others, has given up on any form of help from our federal government. He believes we will never see any form of an “Akaka Bill” from Washington DC that will satisfy everyone in Hawaii. I understand the Native Hawaiian community has social, economic, and political issues that have been left unresolved for decades. The Native Hawaiian community should understand that their ongoing political support of the party that has promised so much in their lifetime, the democrats, has delivered not much to their community. It is time for Hawaiians to envision a better life through support of a conservative platform, by supporting republicans. It’s time to stop teaching “victimization” to Native Hawaiians and to support them and their unique culture; for all that it has given to us in our local society today.
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?
Having been employed in the maritime transportation industry and as a graduate of the California Maritime Academy, I have a unique view of this law. I have personal, first-hand knowledge and understanding of what this law means to Hawaii citizens.
First, the “studies” often cited by those opposed to the Jones Act, are fundamentally flawed and incorrect. This is an admission by the very authors of those studies. The US International Trade Commission (USITC) published a study in 1991 and grossly over-stated that the Jones Act ‘added’ to the costs of living in Hawaii by billions of dollars. They admitted the report had serious statistical flaws and revised “downward” their estimates again in follow up studies performed in 1993 and again in 1995.
In the 1995, Senator John McCain (a huge anti-Jones Act politician) himself asked the GAO to “validate” the USITC reports. The GAO found more flaws with the USITC reporting. Thus, again in 1999, the USITC study further decreased their estimates on what the Jones Act was adding to cost of living to Hawaii residents. By 2002, the USITC report had changed their position again. In 1991, they had estimated the Jones Act cost ALL US citizens $9.8 billion annually. In 2002, their report re-stated that amount to only $656 million for ALL US CITIZENS.
But even this report had serious flaws. Most opponents to the Jones Act today have stated that foreign flag ships should be allowed in the domestic Hawaii/US trade, as long as they too, meet environmental and employment standards found on US flag ships. If that were the case, the cost differential between operating an American ship and a foreign ship, becomes negligible.
Jones Act carriers provide a stable economic lifeline to Hawaii, economic security for an economy that does not have the capacity to warehouse food and other consumables beyond 10 days. For neighbor islands, the typical retailer is lucky to have food “on hand” up to 7 days. We have oil in storage in tanks at our refineries that conceivably (at best) provide “energy” for 60 days.
Jones Act ships provide military and national security. It would behoove Republicans as a party to better understand this relationship. It is ignorant to support our military men and women without understanding how those same men and women are provided the war material, food, supplies, ammunition, and fuel, by our civilian merchant mariners on Jones Act vessels. I am confused as to how military vets like McCain and even our own congressmen, fail to understand this critical relationship.
Finally, perhaps the best argument to the anti-Jones Act people would be this: If elimination of the Jones Act would supposedly guarantee a dramatic decrease in the cost of everything in Hawaii, how is it that we have the highest priced fuel in the nation? Crude oil comes to Hawaii from foreign countries, carried by foreign ships, employing foreign crews, operated by foreign companies. According to anti-Jones Act people, that would imply that our gasoline would be very cheap! But it isn’t. Eliminating the Jones Act as a means of decreasing our costs of living in Hawaii is a poorly conceived idea that has many more dire consequences than most people understand.
Endorsements you would like to list: Senator Fred Hemmings- currently seated Senator for this race, and Representative Cynthia Thielen.
Any additional comments: I am running for this seat because I believe in maintaing a two party system, because it is important that a conservative voice be heard, and so that we avoid a dangerous one sided political monopoly.
Mail: c/o IMS Inc., 46-001 Kamehameha Hwy., Ste. 301, Kaneohe, HI 96744
Web site address: www.VirginiaEnos.com
Campaign Slogan or Theme (optional) “Voice of Balance”