THE AFFORDABLE HAWAIʻI COALITION WILL CONTINUE: THERE IS MUCH WORK TO BE DONE FOR OUR PUBLIC SCHOOLS
News Release from Affordable Hawaiʻi Coalition, October 22, 2018
HONOLULU – The Affordable Hawaiʻi Coalition’s executive committee held its regular weekly meeting this morning to discuss the future of the organization after Friday’s decision by the Hawaii Supreme Court to invalidate a proposed constitutional amendment on the General Election ballot that the coalition opposed. The executive committee voted unanimously to continue its commitment to address issues of concern to the people of Hawaii, starting with public education.
“We are pleased with the unanimous decision by the Hawaii Supreme Court last Friday, because it validated many of our concerns about the vague and potentially confusing nature of the wording on the ballot,” said Stanley Lau, chairman of the Affordable Hawaiʻi Coalition. “During the course of our work against the proposed constitutional amendment, we built a diverse statewide network of people who are committed to finding solutions to some of Hawaii’s perennial problems such as the high cost of living, creating more affordable housing, and improving public education. Our public schools governance structure needs to be transformed so that school level professionals can determine how best to meet the needs of their students. We will work with HSTA, the DOE, elected officials, appropriate not-for-profit organizations, and our coalition members throughout Hawaii to achieve these improvements.”
“Among the reasons why Hawaii’s DOE achieves such poor results is that it lacks systemwide transparency and accountability, which would not be tolerated in any other state. This is a structural problem, not a people problem and it has been a problem for decades. Because transparency and accountability are overused abstractions, we offer an example. Hawaii’s DOE currently describes its annual operating budget as “nearly $2 billion,” but that number is deceptive. It does not include more than a billion dollars in other education expenditures, such as teacher fringe benefits. Before enacting any new taxes, we need to know where this $3 billion is being spent and why our public school students don’t have books and supplies,” said Lau.
“The Chamber represents more than 2,000 member companies and their 250,000 employees,” said Sherry Menor-McNamara, member of the Affordable Hawaiʻi Coalition and president and CEO of Chamber of Commerce Hawaii. “Our advocacy efforts are always member-driven, which is why we worked to ramp up our efforts to inform our members and the business community about the far-reaching implications of this Con Am and strongly opposed this new tax on real property. On behalf of our members and the employees they represent, we will continue to fight for policies that make Hawaii a better place to do business and develop solutions to the most pressing problems facing businesses across the state, including ensuring that we have a public education system that serves our state’s workforce needs.”
“We aren’t taking a break, we are going to begin the next phase of our work immediately,” said Lau. “Many of us have been supporting the public schools for decades in hundreds of different ways, and one of our executive committee members is the chairman of the Public Schools of Hawaii Foundation. We will join other stakeholders in developing a plan of action and we will do our part to improve our public schools.”
About the Affordable Hawaiʻi Coalition
The Affordable Hawaiʻi Coalition represents a diverse group of people from across the state who are committed to finding solutions to address issues of importance to Hawaii residents, including
the high cost of living, creating more affordable housing opportunities and improving public education. The coalition includes small business owners, education advocates, union members, nonprofit organizations and other citizens. For more information, visit www.affordablehawaii.org.