The following editorial was originally published in the Honolulu Star-Advertiser on Sunday, November 4, 2018 as part of the "Raise Your Hand" column in the Insights section.
By: Evan Gates and Kana’i Kapele
Kamehameha Schools Kapalama, Class of 2019
According to the U.S Census Bureau, as of 2017, 13,537 people have left Hawai’i for the mainland because of the dramatic changes to their living conditions. Our island home is slowly becoming a distant, unattainable dream. Each year that we wait, each time we settle for incompetency, we are losing precious hope in the future. Representative Andria Tupola is determined to make vital changes to the living conditions of the local people in Hawai’i by focusing on housing, education, and employment .
Homelessness is pervasive in Hawai’i. We consistently have the top homelessness rate in the nation. The Ige administration has attempted a central, top-down strategy based that has failed to address the needs of the homeless community. Mrs. Tupola understands that homelessness is a different issue in every community - the needs of the homeless in Waiʻanae is vastly different than the needs of those on Maui.. By bringing in regional experts who know their areas better than any governor ever could, Mrs. Tupola will address the specific needs of each community. Additionally, she aims to decrease the cost of living by supporting local developers and increasing access to Hawaiian Home Lands. Her solution to increase reporting of trust land management, maximize funding from federal grants, and improve financial literacy education will bring the much needed change that is sought by Hawai’i families.
Education and sufficient funding are imperative because together they allow people to obtain the life skills and knowledge necessary to become successful citizens. However, the DOE reported that public schools receive $12,855 per-pupil and charter schools receive $7,323 per-pupil. Unfair distribution of funding affects Hawai’i youth as they are forced to learn in settings not only unsuitable for learning but downright dangerous. Teachers are responsible for students’ success, yet the current administration has continued to mistreat them. It is no coincidence that the HSTA has felt it necessary to push for a Constitutional amendment in order to secure their proper funding; the current government has failed them. Many teachers are moving out of the state because their salary is not suitable with the cost of living. The Ige administration has proved that they cannot be trusted to support our teachers. Mrs. Tupola strives to secure equal funding for public schools, support teachers more effectively, and properly assess resources and facilities. She introduced HB 1369, a measure that would create a council composed of educators to give input on policy, and HB 2621, which increased education funding for local universities.
Lastly, Hawaiʻi has a low unemployment rate, but problems hide below the surface. Forbes ranked Hawaii as the worst state to start a new business. In addition, Hawaiʻi lacks business resources and is limited to capital grants and local partnerships. Small businesses serve as a means for local families to achieve financial safety, yet the Ige administration has created an environment toxic to those who wish to contribute to the economy. Mrs. Tupola intends to decrease the corporate tax rate, increase opportunities for grants and local partnerships in order to aid startup businesses, and identify employment gaps to allow local businesses to remain in Hawaiʻi. Governor Ige has attacked these plans for favoring developers, but he fails to realize that these changes support small business owners as well.
Mrs. Tupola has been our state house district representative for the past four years. From leading community cleanups to painting lockers, we are personal witnesses of the immense impact and change that she has done in our community alone. Her campaign will decide whether Hawaiʻi will always be a home for the local people to stay.