The House Republican Caucus message is simple: Hawaii and its government should be more accountable, affordable and accessible.

This interim, we’ve created a bill package called Better Solutions for the Best Hawaii.

Just like you, we’re tired of always seeing Hawaii ranked as one of the worst states for things like cost of living, infrastructure, taxes and business. We want government to spend tax money more efficiently and manage public services more effectively.

We’ve seen the problems of one-party rule and are ready to get to work on solutions to make Hawaii more accountable, affordable and accessible.

Members of the House gaveled in during beginning of session on 2 May 2017.

There are only five Republicans in the 51-member Hawaii House of Representatives, but they’ve got ideas to help their constituents. They are tired of one-party rule.

Cory Lum/Civil Beat

Accountable

Governments are created to work for the people. But too often it seems like politicians just go through the motions. Input from testifiers is ignored as legislators continue to wrap Hawaii’s government in more red tape. It’s often hard to realize the impacts of new taxes or fee increases until we get the bill. That’s not how things should be. But to create change, you need to be able to hold your legislators accountable.

For years, our caucus has pushed for more government accountability by introducing a bill that requires a fiscal note for any legislation. A fiscal note is a financial study that explains how much money the bill would cost and how it would affect the economy.

We also believe there’s room to improve the state and county budgeting process. We’re proposing a bill that removes the loopholes that some counties use to keep budget documents shrouded in secrecy. The public should know how much money agencies are asking for, whether they are getting what they need and if they’re actually spending money on the things they promise.

And third, we’re calling for the City and County of Honolulu to slash the amount of time it takes to get a building permit from an average of 17 months. That’s the longest time in the entire country! We’re confident that a shorter building permit wait time will help housing supply keep up with housing demand, lowering the cost for everyone.

Affordable

It’s no secret that Hawaii is a very expensive place to live. Often people are spending every cent of every paycheck just to pay for the bare necessities – we want to change that. Government should help lighten the load.

In the past, Republicans have offered an amendment to the Hawaii State Constitution requiring a two-thirds majority in the House and Senate for any tax increase. Tax increases mean families have less to spend on their own priorities. We believe that more careful legislative debate will help better justify tax increases and protect you from ones that aren’t needed.

We’ll also be introducing a bill that exempts food from the general excise tax. The GET is collected on almost everything, and as a regressive tax, those who don’t make a lot are hurt by it the most. Living in Hawaii is expensive, and making food tax-free could save the average family of four about $650 a year.

Finally, Hawaii’s death or estate taxes are an unjust form of double taxation. Hawaii is one of only 12 states that impose a death tax. Our bill would eliminate this insult to the dignity of life and threat to private property.

Accessible

In addition to making government more accountable and Hawaii more affordable, we also need reforms that provide access and equal treatment to communities across the state.

We’re introducing a resolution requiring the State Auditor to study and suggest reforms for Hawaii’s charter school system. It’s time every public school student in our state had the opportunity to receive a quality education by fixing the inequality between DOE schools and charter schools.

Next, if you don’t live on Oahu, it’s hard to feel included in the legislative process. We already use tools like FaceTime and Skype to stay in touch with friends and family. The same technology will allow remote testimony from neighbor islands. You should have your voice heard in the legislative process no matter where you live in our state.

And lastly, we’re introducing a measure we like to call “Extending Aloha to Military Families.” Our state hosts one of the densest concentrations of active-duty military families in the U.S. They make a lot of sacrifices to keep us safe, and Hawaii wouldn’t be the same without them. We want to help encourage veterans and military spouses to join Hawaii’s workforce, because together we can build a stronger, healthier economy.

Make Your Voice Heard

We believe our ideas can make Hawaii better, but we know that the most important part of our government is you. We rely on testifiers and stakeholders to provide input on key issues. So show up, make your voice heard, and help us create better solutions for the best Hawaii.

You can find more information about the Hawaii House Republican Caucus 2018 Bill Package at houseminority.wordpress.com.

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