Housing For Local Families
I want future generations to remain in our islands with their families and friends, and affordable housing is the best way to keep them here. The cost to purchase or rent a home in our state has grown beyond the ability of too many local people. We must encourage more rentals, which I began as mayor, but that’s just a part of the solution. We need to build more homes – single family, townhomes, and condos – in areas where our working families live and need them. And as the largest landowner on every island, the state holds a critical key to make this happen.
Diversifying Our Economy
Government is not an entrepreneur. It can’t start and grow new businesses. But we can do a dramatically better job to foster and attract them. Hawai‘i has some of the highest income tax brackets in the US and difficult regulatory burdens. We’re at an all-time low in business rankings. We must make our state a better place for innovators and entrepreneurs to do business. If we want to attract more industries and jobs beyond tourism, we have to reduce taxes, bureaucracy, and over-regulation.
The roots of homelessness lie in housing affordability, mental health, and substance abuse. There are no fast or easy answers to any of those. But our greatest successes have been through public-private partnerships like Kahauiki Village, and we need many, many more like it. The state controls much of the land and regulatory apparatus to foster such projects and must play a larger proactive role. We must also invest more, much more, in community mental health and drug treatment programs. Although we may never eliminate homelessness in a free society such as ours, we need leadership to make homelessness rare, brief, and nonrecurring.
Rail, Buses and Highways
We must ensure that all our people can get to work and school safely and quickly. But we have too many transportation “have nots” who are forced to drive long distances in heavy traffic, on rundown highways or ride on crowded buses 2-3 hours or more every day. That’s why we need to complete rail all the way Ala Moana (for the tens of thousands who work in town and Waikiki) and eventually UH. We need to invest in more new buses on the Neighbor Islands. And we need to repave, repair and widen highways statewide.
Environment and Climate Change
There is no other state in the country more vulnerable to climate change than Hawai‘i. And there are no ecosystems more threatened than those in Hawai‘i, especially when you consider the vast ocean environments surrounding us. I’m proud of the work we’ve begun to make our island home greener and more sustainable, but there is so much more we must do. I have always strongly supported Governor Ige’s aggressive goals of 100% renewable energy by 2045, and believe we also need such a commitment to other areas of our environment and preparation for climate change.
Tourism is the driving force of Hawai‘i’s economy, and we are fortunate it’s an industry without belching smokestacks; one that’s founded in the sharing of aloha with people from around the world. But we must manage it better to reduce the growing impacts on our residents, neighborhoods, and environment. We must concentrate visitor activities to areas with the infrastructure to support them. We need to reduce traffic congestion and control commercial access to beaches, parks, and trails. And we must work to attract visitors who come to our islands to support their sustainability, not threaten it.