REDUCING THE COST OF LIVING AND BUILDING A JUST ECONOMY
Hawaii’s growing cost of living and economic inequality must be addressed or our next generation will be unable to raise their own families here.
Financial security for all families in the future
Taking on a rising cost of living and growing income inequality, Chris passed legislation making Hawaii the first state to commit to ensuring basic financial security for all families. With half of all local families unable to afford basic food, shelter, and healthcare, this effort puts all options on the table to consider new ideas such as reducing taxes on food or medicine, replacing subsidies for big business with guaranteed stimulus income for local families, or other innovative ways to eliminate poverty and ensure increasing automation doesn’t just kill jobs, but benefits everyone.
Expanding help for local families today
For many years Chris fought hard and introduced legislation to establish a state earned income tax credit (EITC) to benefit working families and allow paid family leave to care for siblings. An EITC puts cash directly into the pockets of working families. Chris helped the legislature successfully adopt both new policies in 2017.
Protecting workers from exploitation
To boost local wages and prevent workers being held hostage by shady employers, Chris passed a law preventing tech corporations from forcing employees to sign non-compete agreements that prevent workers from seeking higher paying jobs elsewhere. A study recently found the new law increased mobility for workers and resulted in wage increases of four percent.
Lowering the cost of living
Chris’ successful efforts passing numerous bills (See Climate and Energy) to push utilities to expand cheaper solar and reduce Hawaii’s reliance on costly imported fossil fuels has allowed families with solar energy to nearly eliminate their electric bills, but more importantly has reduced electric rates for all families, including those who don’t have solar. As a result of progress toward 100 percent renewable energy, electric rates on Oahu have fallen by 20 percent in recent years as cheaper renewable projects replace expensive fossil fuels. This has contributed to half a billion dollars in savings and a lower cost of living for local residents.
Reducing the cost of government services
The Department of Education and the University of Hawaii will spend about $2 billion on electric bills over the next two decades. To lower cost to taxpayers and reduce student tuition increases, Chris passed bills directing all public schools and universities to produce their own cheaper renewable energy, In 2020 the first UH campus on Oahu achieved this goal. Leeward Community College's efforts will save the UH system $269,000 in energy and operational costs this year and $8.4million in operating costs over the next 20 years. Chris then passed legislation expanding plans to reduce energy costs to all State departments and facilities.
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