Prior to being elected governor of Hawaii, I served as project manager with Robert A. Ige and Associates, Inc., Vice President of engineering at NetEnterprise, and senior principal engineer at Pihana Pacific, which established the first world-class data c
In 1985 I was appointed to a seat in the House of Representatives where I served until elected to the State Senate in 1994. During my time in the Legislature, I chaired nine different committees including Health, Education, and the Ways and Means Committ
As Hawaii’s governor, I have led in an open, honest, and transparent manner and have a true record of accomplishment. I stand up to special interests and my administration has implemented effective and successful programs and policies to address the issues of our time. We are increasing the quality of public education and attainability of higher education, completing thousands of housing units, significantly reducing the number of homeless, protecting our environment and natural resources, and supporting creation of good jobs.
My goals are to increase your quality of life and ensure that the next generation has all the opportunities they deserve. We are making thoughtful decisions on behalf of Hawaii’s people and ensuring the public good is the only consideration in all that we do. We can be trusted to continue meeting these standards and to continue working hard on your behalf.
Top challenges facing Hawaii’s people include the cost of living, the ability to make a living wage, and being able to provide our children and the next generation all the opportunities they deserve. I understand how hard it is to get ahead in Hawaii and that many are struggling just to get by. My administration has been working hard to address these issues and is making progress. We’ve completed thousands of affordable housing units and thousands more of market housing units. We are also making strategic investments to foster economic growth and creation of the types of jobs that Hawaii’s residents and the next generation need and want. We also improved the quality of education, for example cooling over 1,300 classrooms and helping tens of thousands of children focus on learning rather than battling the heat, and are implementing programs that make college achievable.
The single most important bill adopted by the legislature each year is the state budget, which allocates billions of taxpayer dollars. I will continue to work on developing responsible budget proposals that make prudent use of taxpayer dollars and provide the services and improvements expected by the public. The legislature agreed with the majority of my proposals and I will continue working to ensure the public’s needs are addressed. There are many other high legislative priorities, including establishing a $15 minimum wage and developing a paid family leave program for Hawaii’s families. We must also work with the counties to ensure they have all the tools they need to rein in illegal transient vacation units and we are always working on programs to improve our ability to protect our environment.
I have always been a strong advocate for providing Hawaii’s children with access to a world-class education. They deserve nothing less. With the help of more than 3000 stakeholders, we completed a new blueprint to guide the transition to a 21st century public education system. My efforts are to change the top down decision-making culture of the DOE, empower schools, principals, and teachers, provide needed resources, and allow children to be taught in the manner that best suits their unique needs and environments.
I’ve taken steps to improve Hawaii’s ability to attract and retain quality teachers and have significantly improved the environment of our classrooms. By cooling over 1300 classrooms, tens of thousands of children are spending more time learning and less time fighting the heat. I also pushed for Hawaii’s Promise, which removes the financial barriers for those wanting to achieve a higher education, and the Early College program which allows students to earn college credits during their high school years – saving thousands of dollars for college tuition and making it easier to graduate from college.
We are creating better job opportunities by supporting the economic sectors of the future. We have great potential in a globally connected world and are ideally positioned for innovative, globally significant technologies such as telemedicine, smart cities, and aquaculture. Hawaii is home to talented individuals breaking new ground and business innovators creating new products and services. We must foster an environment for our millennials and keiki that allows them to launch and sustain their careers right here in the islands. We’ve laid important groundwork and have seen tangible results during my first term. I will continue the programs and initiatives we have started to further develop our innovation economy so that the job opportunities our residents desire will be available right here at home.
On the issue of housing, my administration has worked with the private sector and housing advocates since I took office to maximize the state’s financing tools to produce housing and ensure investment in the development of regional infrastructure so more projects can be implemented. Two key state financing tools are the Rental Housing Revolving Fund and the Dwelling Unit Revolving Fund. Within our first four years, my administration worked with the legislature to provide about $377 million for these programs.
Our efforts are paying off. Since becoming governor, more than 5,300 new housing units were produced with 40% of them being affordable. Another 1,400 units are in the pipeline, and more than 4,000 units are in the planning phase. We are well on our way to exceeding our goal of 10,000 new housing units by 2020.
I changed the paradigm by requesting hundreds of millions of dollars in appropriations over the course of my first term to support housing development, most of which the legislature has recently agreed to fund. I will continue to be a strong advocate for supporting the development of housing at all price points. In 2017 I adopted the Hawaii State Housing Functional Plan which represents renewed state commitment to producing more housing through cooperation and collaboration between private and public sectors. The plan contains specific strategies and implementing actions intended to increase housing production, including rental housing, homeownership, and remove impediments to residential development. I am committed to achieving its objectives and am the only candidate with a proven track record of delivering homes for our communities.
I have also implemented programs that data proves are substantially decreasing homeless populations in Hawaii. Our efforts have reduced the number of homeless individuals statewide for two consecutive years, down almost 10 percent in 2018, on top of an 8.8 percent reduction in 2017. We’ve nearly doubled average permanent housing placements per month from 231 to 412, and average lengths of stay in homeless programs have gone down to 163 days from 430 days.
We have worked to build a comprehensive system to address homelessness by:
• Being accountable for public funds and basing payment for shelters and other services on their effectiveness in getting people housed and keeping them housed.
• Expanding proven programs like Housing First statewide so chronic homelessness is addressed in every county.
• Engaging in public-private partnerships that quickly add new housing for homeless families, such as the recent Kahauiki Village project.
• Partnering with law enforcement and treatment providers to keep homeless persons from cycling through the criminal justice system and increase access to mental health and substance abuse treatment.
This approach works, aligns with national best practices, and is guided by data. I plan to continue to implement these programs as we continuously assess how to best address the issue. Homelessness won’t be fixed overnight but we’ve made real progress.
The race for governor is certainly about leadership, but leaders don’t just talk about leadership. They get things done, and they do so with integrity. As governor, I led a clean break from the old ways of machine politics and backroom deals. My administration does not permit special interests to outweigh the public interest, and is always working for the collective good.
The actions I’ve taken make Hawaii a national leader on issues ranging from environmental protection and public safety to addressing government’s unfunded liabilities. We put Hawaii on a solid path to 100% renewable power and made Hawaii one of the few state’s Moody’s has determined is now prepared to weather the next recession. We have made real progress on addressing important quality of life issues. We have achieved much, and together we will achieve more. Let’s stand together and ensure the next generation can choose to call Hawaii home and has all the opportunities they deserve. Thank you for allowing me to serve you and your families and I sincerely appreciate your vote on Aug. 11th.