What are your party’s legislative priorities for 2008?
DEMOCRATIC PARTY OF HAWAII
The coming legislative session will face significant opportunities as well as challenges. The need for decisive leadership is a clear priority because the issues before us demand it. The state’s economy is at a critical juncture. Its capacity to meet the immediate needs of Hawaii’s people will be defined in part by the budget decisions the Legislature makes in 2008.
At the same time, we cannot neglect our responsibilities to Hawaii’s future generations and here is where I think Democrats will make the greatest difference.
As a party, we have a rich history of advancing the cause of a just, free and fair society. We have fought and won the battles that count: civil rights, equal rights, environmental protection, labor and education reform, the creation of a social safety net for those in need. All of these advances happened because Democrats acted.
Our Legislature and our people face a new set of challenges today. Population growth and development strain both Hawaii’s natural resources and its infrastructure. Forces outside the state put at risk what is perhaps our greatest asset: the ability of a diverse people to live and work together.
Soaring energy costs will remain beyond our control unless the state accelerates programs to speed the development of locally produced energy alternatives.
Food prices and available choices will be threatened unless we act decisively to protect our agricultural lands and “grow local.” Gains in education and quality of life will suffer if we don’t help create a wider field of opportunity for all our people, especially the young. Hawaii must offer more opportunities for its people to make living wages.
In the coming legislative session, let us all come together with open hearts to vigorously debate the issues, and to set a course that both meets our challenges and seizes upon our opportunities in the finest of democratic traditions.
WILLES K. LEE
HAWAII REPUBLICAN PARTY
Do you remember the days when Forbes magazine called us the “People’s Republic of Hawaii?” We’ve come a long way since then, but there is still more to do. Hawaii’s economy and the confidence of Hawaii businesses have increased significantly since Gov. Linda Lingle declared in 2002 that Hawaii was “open for business.”
With a Republican governor and lieutenant governor working with Republicans in the state House and Senate, Hawaii has risen from the bottom of Forbes’ ranking of states’ business climates up to 37th, jumping five spots in just the last year. Surveys of Hawaii businesses also indicate the highest levels of confidence in over a decade. Higher confidence means businesses make investments and hire people. This is reflected in Hawaii’s low unemployment numbers over the past several years.
This remarkable improvement is due in large part to a Republican administration’s efforts to treat all businesses fairly, lower or eliminate fees, improve access and online services, lower costs such as unemployment insurance costs and require regular review of regulations and their impact, while encouraging investment in new Hawaii companies.
In the 2008 legislative session, Republicans will again work to improve the business climate in Hawaii by increasing STEM (science, technology, engineering and math) education in our schools, starting new workforce development programs, lowering business taxes and costs, lessening regulation, improving access to capital and creating new infrastructure so our economy can grow.
Focusing on these initiatives, the Legislature will be successful and will see many other problems solved. The Democratic committee chairs in the House and Senate must allow bills to solve our problems to be heard and to be passed out for vote.