The following post authored by the candidate is reproduced in its entirety from a mailer sent to voters in State House District 17 in August 2020
August 14, 2020
Aloha State House District 17 Resident:
I hope this finds you and your ‘ohana in good health.
We can do our part to control the spread of the virus by complying with guidelines provided by public health and medical professionals, but the COVID-19 pandemic is also putting significant strain on the State’s finances. In the Legislature, my experience in financial matters will prepare me to deal proactively with the issues we face as a district and as a state, including the following.
Economic Recovery Once we successfully control the virus spread, we must move forward with economic recovery. While difficult decisions remain to be made regarding the level of government services available in the future due to the significant decline in tax revenues, we must first extend unemployment benefits beyond what is currently allowed by law. We must also minimize furloughs and layoffs of public employees. Focusing on health and safety considerations, our plan must be based on deferring scheduled pay increases to ensure we can provide for priority health and safety programs. Additional assistance to the unemployed for rent and mortgage should also be pursued if federal unemployment benefits are not renewed or are substantially less than the previous $600.
Development of sustainable diversified agriculture As part of our economic recovery, we must invest in our agriculture infrastructure—from irrigation systems to roads and technology—to take advantage of the substantial land area zoned for agriculture (47% of total available in the state) and develop a more diversified economy. Our laws should not provide incentives for owners of agriculture lands to seek exemptions that allow them to not renew leases to farmers.
Lack of affordable housing and the high cost of living Housing is the largest part of our high cost of living, followed by food, energy/utilities and transportation. We must address this or face the continuing loss of residents, including our children, grandchildren and retirees, as they seek lower cost alternatives on the mainland or, worse, join the homeless population. I believe raising the minimum wage is a partial solution that will not solve this problem without negative effects to small businesses, a major source of employment in our economy. We must also continue to identify and address the other major factors in our high cost of living.
Crime We must deal with crime, especially fraud perpetuated against our kupuna, in a more effective manner. I would propose laws with more severe penalties for financial crimes committed against our kupuna while also addressing diversion programs to prevent such crimes.
Homelessness We must do more to ensure that homelessness does not increase due to unemployment and the inability to afford rent because of the COVID-19 pandemic. Economic recovery and providing affordable housing are also keys to solving this problem.
You can find out more about my background and experience at my website www.keithkogachi.com.
I humbly ask you to vote for me to be your representative for State House District 17.
Mahalo and stay safe,