Lingle administration changes set the stage for economic gains
THE Star-Bulletin's Oct. 30 front-page story
"Vibrant economy not all Lingle's doing" states the obvious, but misses the mark.
While most of the credit goes to the businesses that are the foundation of our state's economic well-being, numerous actions taken by the Lingle-Aiona administration have contributed to the dramatic improvement in our state's business climate since 2002.
When Gov. Linda Lingle took office, Hawaii had a reputation as a place where you had to know someone in government to get something done. That reputation was shattered in Lingle's first year, with the passage of legislation that makes it clear that contractors don't have to "pay to play" to get government contracts.
The Lingle-Aiona administration has made many other fundamental changes to Hawaii's business climate, which was previously considered one of the worst in the nation. One of the attitudinal shifts alluded to in the article was to stop viewing and treating Hawaii's employers and employees as adversaries. For example, the Department of Labor and Industrial Relations replaced heavy-handed, ineffective approaches to enforcing workplace safety laws with a consultative approach to educate and work with business, resulting in a significant reduction in workplace injuries. Likewise, DLIR worked with labor unions to increase worker safety.
ANOTHER example is the creation of a "one-stop shop" where businesses can easily renew their permits and yearly registrations online. Further, the Lingle-Aiona administration has supported business associations to obtain lower health insurance premiums, has worked to lower workers' compensation costs and has pushed for lowering the unemployment insurance tax on employers. In the workers comp arena, the administration's efforts resulted in Hawaii moving from having the third- highest insurance premiums in the nation in 2002 to now placing 15th in 2006, according to a recent Oregon state study.
Businesses have taken note of this new approach by the state government. Many have opened or expanded in Hawaii, giving consumers the benefits of additional competition in industries as diverse as insurance (where Summerlin, Dong Bu, ICAT and AAA of Southern California have joined the marketplace) and banking. While there have been many "up" periods in our state's economy since statehood, no new state-chartered banks were created until the Lingle-Aiona administration, when two (Pacific Rim and Ohana Pacific) opened their doors, a further tribute to the confidence businesses now have in our state.
IT IS A mistake to attribute our current economic growth as the influence of a strong national and international economy. For the 12 years from 1991 to 2002, the average annual gross domestic product growth for the United States was 2.9 percent. For East and Southeast Asia, the average annual GDP growth rate for the 1990s was more than 5 percent. Meanwhile, Hawaii's gross state product stagnated at an average of 0.01 percent a year -- essentially no growth while all of those around us were healthy.
Since Lingle came into office, Hawaii's GSP has grown an average of 4.6 percent a year, while the U.S. GDP has grown by an average of 3.2 percent a year. This is the first time in 30 years that Hawaii's GSP has exceeded the national GDP. GDP growth for Japan, Hawaii's other important market, averaged 1.6 percent. This undercuts the argument that Hawaii is simply following national or international trends.
Another indicator of Hawaii's economic vitality is personal income, which has been up in Hawaii by almost 27 percent since 2003. This is money in people's pockets to raise them out of poverty or improve their standard of living.
THE MOST significant difference for Hawaii between the past three years and the 12 years before that is the confidence that businesses and individuals have in Hawaii's future. This has shown up in various statewide surveys on business confidence. Local banks, for instance, have reported record high confidence levels for the past three years.
The "economy" is not as mysterious as some economists would have us think. In essence, it is the total of thousands of individual decisions made by business owners, employees and consumers. When people trust their government to make decisions that are rational, fair and even-handed, they will have the confidence to invest in the future. That is the environment the Lingle-Aiona administration has established since Linda Lingle took office, and Hawaii is better off as a result.
Director, Department of Business, Economic Development and Tourism
Director, Department of Commerce and Consumer Affairs
Director, Department of Labor and Industrial Relations
Director, Department of Taxation
Mazie's a fighter, but she's against fighting?
The people running Mazie Hirono's campaign must be tone-deaf to irony.
In one of Hirono's hit pieces against Bob Hogue, she slaps on the slogan "A Fighter for All of Us" ... in a mailer advocating her policy of deserting our allies in Iraq, and beating a hasty and disastrous retreat.
And when George Orwell spoke of political "doublespeak," surely he had in mind such things as having a campaign Web site calling for a federal "Peace Department," coupled with hit pieces categorizing oneself as a "fighter."
Hirono is a fighter in the same sense that Michael Dukakis was a tank commander.
Lingle planted seeds of growing economy
In response to Monday's article about the economy
, the Hawaii Island Chamber of Commerce believes Gov. Linda Linda Lingle has planted many of the seeds that have led to the blossoming economy Hawaii has experienced during the last four years.
While we agree many factors have contributed to the economic boom, it has been the governor's policies to streamline the government-to-business interface, as well as her leadership to encourage small business that has made a critical difference.
Our endorsement of the governor is based on the belief that during the next four years she will promote policies that continue to support strong economic growth while balancing that with preserving our limited natural resources that are the basis of so much of our economy.
David Deluz Jr.
Hawaii Island Chamber of Commerce
Lingle hasn't done enough for homeless
Gov. Linda Lingle failed to attack the homeless problem in May 2004 when she acknowledged that a crisis existed. Lingle does not deserve another four years. All of her "feel good" television ads will not do the trick.
Driver who tried to hit jogger got off easy
On Oct. 18, there was a Star-Bulletin article
about a driver who tried to run over a jogger with his SUV and only got six months in prison to be served on weekends. Was justice really served to the victim of this crime? Plus, the driver had a past criminal record, but still got a slap on the wrist.
As a jogger myself and being in the military, where runners are protected on base, I feel for this jogger and I would not want something like this happening to me when I am running. This guy should have gotten a longer jail sentence or at least probation for a period of two years and/or his driving privileges taken away for at least five years. A jogger or anyone should not have to change their routes just because there is some reckless person driving.
That person should not be in public and/or have the privilege of driving. We need to keep the roads safe for everyone!
3 strikes law shows need for new prison
Throughout Oahu, neighborhood boards are privy to police reports that month after month state the same conditions: car theft after car theft goes unabated. More than 70 car thefts for one Honolulu Police Department beat in Waipahu alone this past month should warrant the cavalry.
Instead, the Legislature set out to make certain that the car thief, when caught and sentenced, gets let out prematurely. The car thief will never serve out his full sentence, to make room for the habitual violent offenders who will most likely live out their dying days in prison. This takes up permanently the limited number of prison beds available and only spins the revolving door that much more.
Now that the governor has abandoned the effort to build a prison in Hawaii so that all criminals would have the bed space to do their time as originally prescribed, the three strikes law will do nothing more than exacerbate and compound the problem.
Don't be fooled by the spin that politicians are tough on crime. If they truly cared, they would make certain all offenses, not just the violent ones, are properly served. The only way to achieve this end is to build another prison.
Retired social worker