State Senate Minority (SSM) leader Sam Slom (R-9 O’ahu) released the agenda and platform of the Senate Minority for 2013:
“So that there is no mistake, or confusion, and our position is clear and apart from both the Executive and Majority Legislative branches, I am addressing several special initiatives for this session,” Slom said.
“The Senate Minority continues to believe, based on our independent professional analysis, that Hawaii’s economy has not ‘turned the corner,’ ‘rebounded,’ or improved across the board, with the exception of Hawaii’s visitor industry which has posted record gains. However, construction has not rebounded, and retailing, wholesaling and manufacturing, remain flat. Future major federal assistance is in doubt with the death of Senator Daniel Inouye. Real personal income and our residents’ ability to pay more has not kept pace with rising consumer prices. Therefore, the Senate Minority absolutely and unapologetically opposes any tax, spending or debt increase.” Selected SSM Positions (for a complete listing go to http://www.capitol.hawaii.gov or senateminority.wordpress.com.)
- SSM SUPPORTS “A Better Day” For Isle Residents: SSM believes we should enhance local residents’ standard of living by reducing government, lowering taxes, improving the small business climate and offering consumers more competitive choices in the market place.
- SSM SUPPORTS an Alternative, Slimmed Down, Balanced State Budget Based on Realistic Economic Outlooks: Instead of showing increases of 8% and 11% in budget growth over the next two fiscal years, and adding back social welfare programs and 3,000 more public employees, the SSM budget, which will shortly be on-line, will show programs and activities that should be cut out of the budget in order to balance the budget and make it affordable to Hawaii’s taxpayers. Needed services will be prioritized and not cut while underperforming and wasteful programs will be eliminated.
- SSM OPPOSES the Governor’s increase in the state minimum wage by $1.50 to $8.75 an hour. The minimum wage is an entry, training wage, and not tied to productivity. Only a small percentage of Hawaii’s total workforce receive the minimum wage. It takes choice away from employers and penalizes good workers. A higher wage actually destroys jobs for those seeking a start because an employer pays additional mandates tied to the wage including, matched social security, medicare, unemployment, TDI, workers’ compensation and training. Smart Business Hawaii (SBH) estimates these costs add another 30-35% to the basic wage.
- SSM SUPPORTS Repayment Into the Hurricane Relief and Rainy Day Funds, and the Pay Down of Unfunded ERS & EUTF Liabilities. SSM Supports the Administration’s fiscal promise to fully repay these funds and reduce our crippling worst-in-the-Nation unfunded liabilities.
- SSM OPPOSES the “Sugary Beverage Tax” The Governor and State Department of Health continue to pursue a tax on beverages containing sugar. Interesting that Hawaii once had a thriving sugar cane industry. The proposal is to add 1¢ per ounce for all beverages with sugar in order to stem childhood obesity. SSM believes it is the parents’ responsibility to take care of their own children, to regulate intake of all foods and beverages, encourage physical activity and limit use of cell phones and electronic equipment. Money collected would be on top of existing General Excise and Beverage Deposit taxes in Hawaii and further penalize lower income consumers, hurt business and their employees, and grab the extra money for the General Fund, unrelated to obesity.
- SSM OPPOSES the Governor’s Early Education initiative. This is the latest version of previously state-subsidized pre-Kindergarten schemes that all failed. The proposal does not add more facilities or resources, just shifts the estimated $32 million (to start) funding from individuals who should be responsible for their own children, to all taxpayers. The State has a terrible record of educating K-12 government school students and should concentrate on improvement there before introducing any new subsidy programs.
- SSM SUPPORTS Real Government Transparency, Including Initiative, Referendum, Recall and Term Limits SSM continues to support and encourage maximum citizen input (IR&R)
- SSM OPPOSES the Public Land Development Corporation (PLDC): SSM believes the PLDC is fatally flawed, denies citizen input, exempts the state from its own environmental laws, takes prime agricultural land and forces people into Transit Oriented Development (TOD) high density units.
- SSM SUPPORTS Major Reforms in the University of Hawaii: SSM believes that the 2012 Senate hearings uncovered several major management and financial flaws within the sprawling University of Hawaii System and supports all 18 Senate Committee recommendations, more transparency, and changes in the UH Administration governance, Board of Regents, and compensation and benefit packages.
- SSM OPPOSES the Undersea Cable and N.I. Wind Turbines: SSM supports voluntary, incentive driven alternative energy sources but opposes a $2 billion undersea electric cable and expensive wind turbines on Lanai and Molokai, in opposition to the views of residents, to help power O’ahu at an increased cost to HECO ratepayers.