Hawaii is home to the tenth largest school district in the country, and the only State run district. The delivery of public education in our state makes up for 25 percent of the State's budget, yet as a district we consistently reside in the lower third of the nation in academic achievement. We are doing 180 degrees out from what we should be doing. The test driven industrial standardized model education system trains our children for a world that no longer exists. Our solutions thus far have been 180 degrees out of sync with what we need to be doing We measure everything from standardized testing - we celebrate when scores are high - and panic when they are low. Too many of Hawaii's children and educators are not thriving. I intend to be a catalyst for change that puts students first. I believe in empowered school communities that put innovation, leadership, creativity and a future that promises more than high college debt coupled with marginal employment.
I announced my candidacy for Governor in front of the Waikiki Natatorium War Memorial. This war memorial honors and memorializes the over 10,000 territorial citizens that fought in WW I - some of those men did not come home. The "Tank" has been boarded up since 1979 and is a perfect metaphor as to the condition of our crumbling infrastructure. Add to the dysfunction of scant resources not being allocated corectly to meet emerging needs and requirements - is the island nature of our State. Each island has its own and unique requirements and they are not being met equally. As an example, the repair and maintenance for schools on Hawaii Island, Kauai, Maui, and Molokai is the responsibility of another state department other than the Department of Education. The dysfunction this inserts into the capitol budget process advances the current state of decay of our schools. I will recommend solutions to streamline and optimize the capitol improvement dollars that are allocated specifically for our schools.
Our small boat harbors, specifically on Oahu, are in such a state of disrepair as to make them unsafe. Bold ideas need to be presented that do not put further stress on the budget and tax payers.
Our roads and bridges will have to be addressed as well. There has to be a synergy with the various Counties, State, and Federal monies to take a hard look and conduct proper analysis of the current conditions of our roads and address them efficiently and promptly with a sense of equity across all islands and certainly safety for all.
Above all as to the reasons I am running for Governor, is the state of our economy. There are many published statistics with regards to forecasted economic growth, jobless rate, and tourism spending that when analyzed separately can give the impression that Hawaii is on stable ground economically - It is not. When you take the aggregate indices of our economy and take a holistic view, Hawaii is not too far from following other State's into a condition of not being able to meet its obligations. Just our unfunded liability alone pushes us closer to that threshold. The low unemployment rate does not address the issue of a living wage or the fact that principal bread-winners in the household are working two or more jobs to feed and house their families. It does not take into consideration that our economic engine -tourism- is relatively flat with regards to growth. Add to that the statistically bleak outlook of increased revenue coming into the State, yet we continue to spend uncontrollably heaping the burden of "how to pay" on the taxpayer. The tax burden the average citizen is now responsible for is unsustainable. My pledge will be to institute fiscal transparency processes into all departments and to be able to answer succinctly and when asked... "where is my tax dollar being spent, and what am I getting for it."
I have a compelling vision and style of leadership for all. Hawaii deserves and needs "Statesman-like" leadership now to tackle the many challenges Hawaii faces. The same politician-brand style of leadership that has served the state for decades, has not moved Hawaii forward in any measurable sense. It is time to put trust and confidence back into government.