‘We can do so much more — if we work together’

Posted on Jan 30, 2019 in Capitol Connection, Featured

Governor Ige called for unity in creating a better future for Hawai’i.

Replacing OCCC – We are seeking to continue the process of replacing the outdated correctional center in Kalihi. The relocation gives us a chance to provide enhanced services and program opportunities that would aid in rehabilitation. I agree with Rep. Gregg Takayama and Sen. Clarence Nishihara who head the committees on Public Safety.  It’s a chance to rethink how we design and build correctional facilities. If we disagree on the location, how big it should be or the programming offered—fair enough.  Let’s work together. While it is not the primary reason to relocate O‘ahu’s outdated jail, the chance to revitalize the community of Kalihi by using that vacated space to create new economic and social opportunities is another good reason to relocate OCCC.

Raising the minimum wage, more TAT resources for the counties – Concern for others is why we are submitting legislation to bring our minimum wage closer to a real “living wage.” But to translate those concerns into meaningful action takes resources. That’s why we must be cognizant of the needs of the counties. To help them do their jobs better, we will be asking the Legislature to remove the current $103-million cap on the Transient Accommodations Tax (TAT) and return the tax to how it originally functioned: allocating to the counties a straight percentage of TAT funds collected. In other words, the counties’ share would rise and fall based on the amount of money collected—without any cap on the high side. There is a fairness to that formula that speaks volumes not only about our concern for others, but about our willingness to work with the counties as equal partners in moving the state forward. It’s a change in the whole notion of revenue sharing whose time has come.  

Finally, we have spent the last four years implementing frameworks that will help guide us far beyond the next four years: our blueprint for education, our clean energy portfolio, and our sustainability roadmap. The major initiatives that I’ve highlighted this morning—on public preschool education, affordable leasehold condominiums and the TAT adjustment–are built upon these and other frameworks. But to realize our goals, it will take more than just this administration, more than government, more than the private sector, or community service and nonprofit organizations. It will take all of us.

Clarissa, Johnson and Alekah Garcia. Photo by Linda Berry.

I began my remarks this morning with the notion that the future is personal. Leadership is also personal.  And it has a name and it is Us. We have a duty and responsibility to do our jobs and do them in partnership with each other. That is the least those folks up there in the gallery—the people we all work for—expect.  I know we can do so much more—if we work together. That’s why I have been meeting with the Senate and the House to see if we can establish a common ground from which both houses can better shape a budget. After four years in this office, I know what I am asking is not an easy task.  It never has been. But it becomes easier if we remember that little girl who was born in Kona in the very early morning hours of Jan. 1. She is the real source of our strength, our determination and our commitment to Hawai‘i. She is the one who will carry on the values that were passed on to us from our parents. Alekah Obra Garcia is our future, and we welcome her with loving, open arms. We have a job to do to prepare these islands for her, so let’s get started—shall we? Thank you and aloha.

Read more in the February Capitol Connection newsletter.

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