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Saiki Examines Economic Divide in Opening Day Remarks

January 16, 2019, 10:40 AM HST · Updated January 17, 11:47 AM
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House Speaker Scott Saiki today delivered his opening day remarks of the 2019 legislative session.

He spoke of the challenges ahead, including the increasingly difficult time residents have in making ends meet and the divide between those with and without resources.

According to Speaker Saiki, there are 165,000 ALICE households in Hawaiʻi. This represents 37% of total households–that is people who have income above the federal poverty level, but not enough to afford a basic household budget that includes housing, child care, food, transportation and health care.

This represents 37% of total households.

There are another 47,000 households that live below the federal poverty level, representing 11% of total households, according to Speaker Saiki.

“We need to re-examine wage disparity, while also considering the impact on those who pay wages, and especially small businesses that, unlike other states, provide medical insurance and other benefits to their workers,” said Speaker Saiki.

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He said another cause is the availability of affordable housing.  “Last year, the Legislature appropriated $200 million in cash and $300 million in tax credits to subsidize the development of affordable rental housing units.”

This year, he said, the legislature will work with the Administration to ensure prompt implementation of the funds.

Speaker Saiki also outlined three oversight suggestions to ensure that lawmakers fulfill their role as an important check on fellow branches of government by: (1) Reaffirm the Legislature’s policymaking role; (2) Listen to others and particularly those who are affected by the legislature’s work; and (3) Be prepared to compromise.

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