COST OF LIVING
HIGHEST IN THE NATION
Hawaiʻi has the highest cost of living in the entire Nation. The current situation has and continues to force many local individuals and families to leave the islands in search of a better quality of life. This exodus includes many Native Hawaiians forced from their ancestral homes after 800 years and 26 generations. The issue here is complex, but there are some fundamental factors, if addressed, that can make a tremendous difference.
SHIPPING AND AIR CARGO
(1) Hawaiʻi is in the middle of the Pacific Ocean, the most isolated land mass in the world. As such, any product or produce not made in Hawaiʻi must be shipped or flown in. This adds a substantial cost to everything (Hawaiʻi imports 90% of all products and produce) and pushes up the cost of living for everyone. This is the number one reason why Hawaiʻi has the highest cost of living in America. Until we get a handle on air freight and especially shipping cost, we will never get a handle on cost of living.
Note: For an interesting article on the Jones Act see: https://roncurtis808.com/reduce-the-high-cost-of-living-in-hawaii/
A. Repealing/Reform current shipping laws (Jones Act) to allow global shipping
competition (not limited to U.S. shipping) that will substantially reduce shipping
cost in and out of Hawaiʻi (4 to 5 times higher then international shipping rates). Economist estimate that the Jones Act accounts for 10% to 30% of Hawai‘i’s high cost of living. Another option here is a permanent exemption from the Jones Act, since unlike every other state, we are totally dependent on shipping, supplemented by air cargo, for all imports (90% of what it needed/wanted).
B. Regulate shipping and air cargo cost to ensure that providers remain profitable, at a fair and reasonable cost to consumers.
C. Ensure that there are multiple vendors for shipping and air cargo (no monopolies) to encourage price competition and reduce the risk of vulnerability and negative impact to the people of Hawaiʻi should one vendor become compromised in a monopoly situation.
(2) While Hawaiʻi is not the lowest minimum wage State in the Nation at $10.10, and while many states are still at the Federal Minimum Wage at $7.25, Hawaiʻi is well under the two highest minimum wage states, Washington at $13.69 and California at $13.00 However, when you factor in Hawai‘i’s cost of living, Hawaiʻi becomes the lowest average wage in the Nation.
A. One immediate way to reduce the relative cost of living is to increase individual and family incomes. Increasing the minimum wage will impact lower income wage earners and put upward pressure on all wages and salaries for everyone. With the highest cost of living in the nation, we must ensure a minimum wage that will allow low income families to secure shelter, feed their families, and have a good quality of life without having to work more then one full time job. Accordingly, we promote increasing the Hawai‘i’s minimum wage to no less than $15.00 per hour.
B. Hawai‘i’s minimum wage must reflect Hawai‘i’s cost of living that
continues to grow higher over time. As such, we must institute an
automatic, periodic, cost-of-living adjustment that stays ahead of inflation.
SUPPLY AND DEMAND
Hawai‘i’s natural beauty, weather, and rich culture makes it one of the most sought after places to visit and live in the world, with more than 55,000 new residents annually. However, there is only so much land in Hawaiʻi. This growing interest and demand for Hawaiʻi lands, homes, rentals, and real-estate investments pushes values for homes and rentals higher and higher. Housing, is a primary factor in cost of living. To address this issue we must increase supply and reduce demand simultaneously.
A. Require developers to provide a significant percentage of each project towards affordable housing with substantial penalties for non compliance.
B. Make more state lands available for affordable housing.
C. Adequately fund the Department of Hawaiian Home Lands, so that they can put more Native Hawaiians in homes. This is particularly important given the fact that as an ethnic group, Native Hawaiians have the lowest home ownership rate in Hawaiʻi.
D. Make sure affordable housing programs (purchasing or renting) are accessible and available to residents of Hawaiʻi with significant time residency requirements.
E. We must ensure that local home buyers are not priced out of the market by out of state speculation buyers that drives valuations up.
F. We must establish legal and appropriate restrictions, fees and taxes to discourage multiple absentee home ownership and speculative real-estate investments in Hawaiʻi.
G. We must streamline the permit and development process for affordable housing.