I heard something strangely familiar in Gov. David Ige’s inauguration address last week.
As the governor began speaking of the challenges facing our state, he issued a plea that we all work together to make things better. He even unveiled the theme of his speech:
ʻOni like kākou, or “Moving forward together.”
That’s very similar to “E hana kākou,” the guiding words of the Grassroot Institute of Hawaii. I often use that phrase to discuss how we must all work together to improve our islands. So you can imagine how happy I was to hear the governor echo that sentiment.
Needless to say, I agree with him that we must work together to make a better Hawaii. But there’s a lot more to it than words.
As is so often the case with this type of a address, Gov. Ige expressed a lot of lofty ideals, but very few practical solutions. He said little about how exactly we might work together or toward what specific goals.
Perhaps that’s where we at the Grassroot Institute of Hawaii can help, by providing a road map to a more prosperous Hawaii. Our resources include numerous studies and reports that have compared the 50 states on things such as taxes, regulations and economic freedom. In those reports, we can find exactly what is stifling economic and societal success in our state.
For example, the national Tax Foundation’s 2019 State Business Tax Climate Index ranks Hawaii 38th overall — a drop, unfortunately, of four places from 2018. The reason for the decline? Our state Legislature, with the governor’s approval, recently increased the state’s top marginal individual income tax rate to 11 percent.
In another report, “Economic Freedom of North America 2018,” Hawaii scored worst in the nation for its regressive excise tax and performed poorly in the “Top Marginal Income Tax Rate” and “Labor Market Freedom” categories.
Hawaii’s “sales tax” burden and high personal income tax rates were cited again when the state ranked 45th in the American Legislative Exchange Council’s 2018 “Rich States, Poor States” study.
There is no mystery about what needs to be done to improve Hawaii’s economy. To move up in the national rankings, and make Hawaii a place where we all can live and prosper, we need to follow the example of other successful states by cutting taxes and reducing red tape.
I am happy that the governor has embraced the ethos of “E hana kākou,” and on behalf of the Grassroot Institute of Hawaii and all its supporters, I am more than willing to do my part. Expanding economic freedom in Hawaii is the first step toward solving the many problems he mentioned.
E hana kākou!
Or, if you prefer: ʻOni like kākou!