Comment: Hawaii’s one-party domination isn’t cutting it

Steve Jackson

Elephant in the Room
with Steve Jackson

HONOLULU—This month, I got a chance to listen and chat with many of the new voices in today’s Republican Party. A central theme came up, one that seems different than some Republican themes on the national stage. Many of these Republicans are second or third generation sons and daughters of union members or Hawaii Democratic Party followers. Many of them claim that problems in Hawaii don’t necessarily come from Democrats, but from one-party rule.

The Democratic Party in Hawaii comes from admirable roots, union leadership against corrupt business stewards who failed to care for the people of Hawaii. People who remember the battles of yesteryear seem to favor the Democratic Party, simply from the mistrust of the same kind of people who took advantage of them before.

Kymberly Pine (R, Ewa Beach District 43) said: “The Democratic Party isn’t the party my family helped found.” And it doesn’t seem to be. To many people, the Democratic Party was, and still is, the party that looks after the little guy. It’s the party that provides services to the needy and makes sure that everyone is taken care of. It’s also the party that will fight and defeat any attempts to hurt or worsen the impact on the environment.

Unfortunately, the days of fighting for the little guy with every dollar of everyone else’s money created an environment in which the government can’t even provide basic services. Because of such generosity, Hawaii is plagued with a huge “homelessness” problem and an overburdened social system.

The State furlough problems should have never happened; the State shouldn’t need $39 million dollars in federal government bailouts this far into the recession and legislators should not be asking for tax hikes as the State is trying to find a way out of a jobless recovery. 15 percent underemployment means that people don’t make enough money; it also means that many can’t take advantage of Hawaii’s medical coverage laws for people working over 20 hours. There needs to be some balance and restraint in this government if there is to be any future for our children here.

Also, the party claiming to be the environmental shield of Hawaii is constantly pushing for a rail system that has a chance to be even more devastating to the environment and economy. They are expanding growth through construction but can’t fill the new business centers with proprietors. Corporations become the most viable option here because small business owners have too much trouble competing.

It’s unfathomable to believe that the already revised figures will not expand in the time it will take to complete the rail project. It’s also an unnecessary burden on the people of Hawaii and an unsatisfactory fix for the problem of congestion. I don’t understand how a city government, which needs to furlough its own workers to balance the budget, can claim to be reliable enough to deliver a $5 billion dollar project on time and under budget.

On the economy, CNBC ranked Hawaii the 48th best place to do business in America in 2010, meaning that it’s one of the least favorable places to attract business. With Democratic legislators chomping at the bit for an increase on the General Excise tax, one has to wonder whether or not countries like China will even think about doing business here.

Tax increases only exacerbate the problem. Eventually, the effects of tax increases offset any new revenue and strangle the economy ... Republicans would argue that the point is far passed.

That is why this election is so important to them and for Hawaii; there are 70 Democratic members in the State Legislature and only 8 Republicans. Any move by the Republican governor (which is also up for grabs) can be countered by a party line veto override. Any official Gov. Linda Lingle is responsible for has to be approved by the Democratic majority, creating an environment in which the governor may only push Democrat approved candidates. The checks and balances our society requires for survival are absent in Hawaii. Excess in the Democratic Party has brought about many problems, ones that can’t be fixed by raising taxes. The only changes that can be made are personnel changes at the highest levels of government.

Balance will be the key to a sustainable Hawaii, hopefully the people plan accordingly.