10 New Year's Resolutions for Hawaii
by Dr Keli'i Akina, Ph.D.
As we wind down 2016 and look toward the coming year, it's only natural to start making plans and promises about what we can do better. But making resolutions for yourself--while good for personal growth--is not nearly as much fun as making resolutions for others. Especially when there's plenty of room for improvement.
So we'll leave introspection behind for the moment and end the year with a bang ... by picking out the New Year's resolutions that we think the State of Hawaii should take on in 2017:
1. Balance the budget. Not pretend to balance it through the use of accounting tricks or political promises. Not say you will balance it but mysteriously forget about that when it comes time to negotiate a union contract. Just don't spend more that you collect in revenues. Period. (Tip: this is easier when you don't propose spending increases.)
2. Don't propose spending increases.
3. Think about the taxpayers first. Hawaii's debt represents one of the highest taxpayer burdens in the country, at $28,500. This is their money you're spending. Are you spending it responsibly? Don't fool yourself into thinking that you know how to spend it better than they would.
4. Transparency, transparency, transparency. It's another place where governments make promises they don't intend to keep. Put some real bite into the state transparency law with consequences for agencies that drag their feet or try to avoid disclosure.
5. Don't forget about transparency in budget and spending. Especially when it comes to the state's unfunded liabilities.
6. And while we're on the subject of unfunded liabilities, start thinking about what we can do to solve that problem once and for all. It's going to take more than just a payment plan. We should be thinking about negotiating a solution that will work in the long-term and not commit future generations to endless debt.
7. Address the health care crisis in Hawaii through innovations like public-private partnerships and reform of the state's Certificate of Need laws.
8. Expand choice in education and encourage the growth of more charter schools.
9. (You knew this was coming.) Petition Congress for Jones Act reform.
10. Stop the unconstitutional use of public funds to turn native Hawaiians into a race-based tribe. Instead, focus on what would really help them -- like better schools, more housing, and economic development.
I actually had to cut myself off at ten. It would be so easy to keep going. But we don't want the government to get discouraged. Just imagine how exciting it would be if they attempted to keep the resolutions we suggested. That's why the Grassroot Institute is here--to force them to think about this issues, kicking and screaming if necessary.
Just think of that as our New Year's resolution. And it's a doozy.
E hana kakou (Let's work together!),
Keli'i Akina, Ph.D.
President/CEO, Grassroot Institute
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