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Time to Move On

It is time to refocus and confront the new reality.

October 8, 2009
Commentary contributed by Sen. Gary Hooser · Majority Leader, Hawai‘i Senate

It is time to move past the siege mentality that currently hobbles both our state government and the private sector. It is time to refocus and confront the new reality. And we all need to turn our attention to the task of revitalizing our economy, reenergizing our education system and building a sustainable future—all the while replanting the seeds of hope and optimism in our community.

The formula is as simple as it is demanding: a focus on energy independence, educational excellence and food security will translate into economic vitality and long-term sustainability.

The dangerous convergence of economic, environmental and security interests surrounding our near total dependence on imported oil make the goal of energy independence the most critical issue facing our state. But, as a place with an abundance of natural energy resources, the opportunity and benefits of tackling this issue are huge.

Retaining within our own economy any significant percentage of the $7 billion or more presently exported annually for the importation of foreign oil would have a massive and immediate economic-multiplier effect. The creation of new “Green Collar” jobs in both the development and implementation of renewable energy strategies is a tangible, here and now opportunity.

Hawai‘i can be the world leader in the development of renewable energy. This is not an idle dream. It is a realizable goal.

…As is achieving excellence in our public education system. We have to do better by our children and grandchildren. While streamlining and improving the efficiencies of the central Department of Education administration is essential, our primary focus must be on improving the classroom experience of students. In the long-term, we must increase the pay and training of teachers while shrinking class sizes, especially in the lower grades. Funding to support education will continue to be a challenge, but must not be used as an excuse for failure or non-action. Parents, students, businesses and communities across our state must step up to the plate even more and provide the resolve and leadership needed to achieve our goal of excellence in public education. Test scores have improved steadily over the past few years, and we must maintain the positive momentum.

To achieve true long-term sustainability as an island state, we must be serious about supporting our local farmers and protecting our shrinking supply of agricultural lands. Hawai‘i is dangerously dependent on imported food, and with united government and public support, we could dramatically reduce our reliance on imported meat, fish, milk and produce. Our state government spends millions each year to feed public school students in our schools, inmates in our prisons and patients in our public hospitals — state government should set the example and buy locally grown food first.



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