Chair Saiki's July 4th Editorial Submitted to the Star Advertiser
by Rep Pat Saiki, Chair Hawaii Republican Party
In remembrance of July 4th and in what it means to be an American, it is important to understand and appreciate how fortunate we are to live in Hawaii as part of the United States of America. At the same time it is also important for us to recognize our responsibilities to retain the spirit of our forefathers as they fought for us to be independent and free from oppressive government control.
Such control can be avoided with active participation at the ballot box in determining who makes the decisions affecting our economy and our future. In this area, Hawaii voters have shown little interest – where we find less than 40% of registered voters who bothered to go to the polls in 2012. This decline in voter participation has been occurring for a number of years and we must turn this around or those in power will assume an arrogance which may be debilitating. As I see it, this is already slowly occurring and must be halted.
It is time for the opposition party to rise up and assume its rightful role in presenting alternatives – new candidates, new ideas, problem solvers – to tackle the needs of our state. An active, persuasive, group of dedicated law makers who will keep the needs of the people upper- most in their mission. We need a two-party system to retain this balance of power.
The Republican Party has a cadre of just such a group of candidates for the peoples’ consideration this election year– they include Duke Aiona for Governor, Charles Djou for the Congress, 8 incumbent legislators –and more than 50 new faces throughout the state.
They are as concerned as I, that the most important fact in our state, the high cost of living, has not been adequately addressed. There has been much rhetoric, but, little action. In the meantime our people face the “highest cost of living in the nation” according to the US Commerce Department – a cost of living 16 % higher than the national average.
There are many reasons why we pay $5.59 for hamburger buns – almost 3 times what it costs on the mainland. And let’s look at about $3.69 for a quart of milk, double that elsewhere and gasoline for our cars at $4.35 – highest in the nation. As Civil Beat states – “We pay more for goods and services than residents of any other state”. And let’s not forget our electricity cost which is the highest in the nation- triple that of any other state.
The Republican Party tried to address these concerns by adopting a Resolution at its recent State Convention stating that it is time to request the Federal Government to grant an exemption from the Jones Act which is causing this high cost of goods and services. The Jones Act now requires the use of American-built vessels to ship goods between U. S. ports.
This exemption for Hawaii and other areas such as Guam, Puerto Rico,and Alaska would permit the use of foreign ships to be owned and operated by American shippers. This would allow goods to be shipped directly to us, thus lowering current costs.
It will mean a boon to our economy and a relief to our consumers who work so hard to make payments for basics such as food, utilities, gasoline, clothing etc. Many must work two jobs in order to survive.
It will take unity of local legislative and executive effort to appeal to the Congress to accomplish this. Republican control of the Congress seems likely so Republican leadership in Hawaii could be most effective. Let us invest in the future of Hawaii and support a balanced approach to governing.