Name: Marissa Dipasupil Kerns
Current occupation: Owner, Action Shipping Hawaii
Political experience: Past candidate for State House and U.S. House of Representatives. Regional Vice-Chair Honolulu County Republican Party
The duties of the lieutenant governor include legal name changes, certifying and processing documents, managing official documentation for the public, and becoming acting governor when the governor is away from the state. What would you do outside of these duties to bring value to the office?
We must cut taxes to lower the high cost of living in Hawaii. I will fight to repeal every tax increase passed over the last decade. You deserve a break from these high taxes, as well as our punishingly high income tax and our regressive sales tax (GET). Let’s put our bloated state government on a strict diet and give you and your family the tax relief you ought to receive right now. In addition, we must give taxpayers their money’s worth by redirecting tax dollars to repairing and expanding our crumbling transportation infrastructure. Our roads and highways are falling apart. And we don’t have enough lanes to alleviate congestion. Like you, I’m sick of how slow state government is moving to fix this infrastructure and how much is being wasted on overhead and administration and paper pushers instead of actual asphalt and concrete. Let’s get Hawaii moving and cut traffic congestion in half.
Hawaii’s public school system consistently ranks in the lower half of the country. What would you do to change this?
For decades, taxpayer funding of the state department of education has not been reaching the schools. Far too much money is bottled up by a massive 19th century bureaucracy which is irrelevant in the 21st century. I will fight to change this by making sure every single dollar of tax money for education gets sent directly to schools. From there, parents, teachers, and principals can decide how much administrative support they really need to succeed. After that, every penny goes into the classroom. This means schools can attract the best teachers, have the best technology, materials, and supplies, and the best infrastructure for learning. A radical downsizing of the DOE bureaucracy is long overdue and this will provide more than enough funding to improve our schools and prevent the need for any tax increases. I also believe that parents need to do more to prepare their children to be in the right frame of mind for learning and to help them understand how much their future is at stake with each class in each grade. Too many parents ship their kids off to school without a clear understanding of why learning is so important. I believe the ‘bully pulpit’ of public office provides many vital opportunities to raise awareness about the importance of education, so that when teachers and students enter a classroom, then all involved have a winning attitude about being in school. Teachers will attest that every child’s attitude starts with committed parenting.
The cost of rail continues to rise. Do you support future state tax increases to fund rail construction or operations? Why or why not?
We must stop the overpriced rail project from bankrupting taxpayers which is on track to costing $40,000 per taxpaying family. I will fight to stop this wasteful project at Middle Street and to privatize rail so the financial burden of running the system will be someone else’s problem and not yours. Let’s get taxpayers off the hook for TheTrain; a project which costs far more than promised and will deliver far less than promised.
As more housing developments are announced and built, it appears very few actually cater toward Hawaii’s working class. Do you think this should change, and if so, how?
We must eliminate all the government roadblocks in order to fast track affordable housing and deliver consumer choice. You know why affordable housing is not being built? It’s the politicians. They’ve created so much red tape and bottlenecks to building homes that you’d be shocked. That’s why there’s so little supply and so much pent-up demand. I will fight to fast track land use, zoning, permitting and more so we can bring down the price of every type of home you can imagine. In addition, labor unions are being protected from competition against non-union labor. This drives up the cost of housing too. And the Matson, Young Brothers monopolies result in higher costs for construction materials and equipment being shipped to Oahu and to the neighbor islands. And the State of Hawaii is the #1 landowner in the islands, most of which is going unused and creates an artificial increase in land costs for housing and other construction. I will fight for all of these reforms and more.
Is there a pressing issue in Hawaii that has gone overlooked and requires action?
We must fight public corruption and government waste so we can lower the cost of state government and put tax dollars back in your pocket. Costly corruption and wasteful spending is rampant throughout government in Hawaii and you (and your family) pay the price. For the next four years, I will investigate and expose the corruption in partnership with the state and federal attorneys general so we can drain the swamp here in Hawaii and get you your money’s worth from government at a lower price. I will also lead the effort to identify wasteful spending, particularly departments, programs, and agencies which no longer provide taxpayers with results.