Income inequality is exploding across America, and Hawaiʻi is ground zero. Every year, the cost of living goes up and the income gap continues to widen. This growing income inequality comes at a time when all levels of government are being strained by a legacy of under-investment in infrastructure and a surge of aging baby-boom retirees who rely on earned government pensions and entitlements (such as Social Security and Medicare). The rapidly increasing expenditures for retirees and infrastructure is the defining fiscal challenge of our time for every level of government. And there is no easy path forward.
To thrive in the 21st century, we must recognize the danger of inequality and make it possible for every child born on Kauaʻi to get a great education and find a good job that allows them to buy a home and support their family. Ensuring that every family has access to education and housing is not only a moral necessity, but it also results in a long term increase in the tax base-- which helps ensure the fiscal stability of our county and state governments.
Kauaʻi is more dependent on tourism than any other island in Hawaiʻi. It is imperative that we expand our economy without expanding the number of visitors. The county council needs to make it easier for farmers and manufacturers to start and grow their businesses. And we must ease onerous restrictions that make it difficult for families to run businesses from their homes.
Use county procurement and contracting to support locally owned businesses.
Continually invest in infrastructure maintenance and improvements.
Increase the Kauaʻi Bus service to provide working families with adequate transportation options.
Protect high quality agricultural land from development.
Continue to be a global leader in renewable energy jobs, investments, and education.
Encourage more small businesses by reducing the permitting requirements for commercial improvements.
Increase the amount of industrial land use designations to encourage more local manufacturing.
Diversify and grow the economy.
Ensure progressive taxation so that low income families don't bear the greatest burden.
Ensure that all children have access to high quality education and child-care.
Prevent economically segregated communities by ensuring that every new development contains a mixture of housing types for all levels of income.
For more of my thoughts on the economy, check out some of these published pieces: