The cost of importing foods adds up to more than $3 billion leaving the state annually. If we replace just 10% of imports with locally grown food, it would generate $188 million in total sales, $94 million for farmers, $47 million in wages, $6 million in new taxes and 2,300 jobs.
To do that, we need to preserve farm lands, develop agricultural parks, combat invasive species, and reassess the areas that determine whether a local farmer can survive.
We will be meeting with farmers from each island to hear what they need to make Hawaii more self-sufficient. In the meantime, we are adding $5 million to the agriculture loan program and expanding use of the fund to include biosecurity and food safety needs.
I believe there are many businesses that on their own do right by their employees in terms of pay and benefits. But too many employers continue to reject the idea of progressive workplace values--where men and women workers are treated equally, with dignity and respect. It's in these workplaces where unions play a critical role in fighting to ensure fairness, equal pay for equal work, strong workplace safety standards and reasonable job protections.
IGE: Last year Hawaii became the first state in the country to enact a plan for handling unfunded liabilities for the State Employer Union Health Benefits Trust Fund.
ABERCROMBIE: The Employer-Union Trust Fund (EUTF) has never been prefunded until my administration came into office. With our financial turnaround of the state's finances, we've started to put money back into the EUTF to address its unfunded liabilities. Working with the Legislature, we passed Act 268 in 2013 to statutorily establish an annual required contribution. Hawaii was one of the first states to really address the unfunded liability for Other Post-Employment Benefits (OPEB).
ABERCROMBIE: We must acknowledge that living in the middle of the Pacific comes at a cost. After two years of lobbying the Legislature, I am pleased that we have finally come to an agreement to raise the minimum wage. Raising the purchasing power of our residents through higher incomes not only benefits our citizens directly, it also helps to stimulate our economy.
IGE: We must build homes that Hawaii's working families can afford--not luxury condominiums for out-of-state speculators. With average new home prices approaching $700,000, there needs to be leadership to increase the supply of housing at all price points while protecting Hawaii's natural beauty. The construction of the Honolulu rail system provides the opportunity for Transit Oriented Development incorporating housing along its 21-mile route.
"It's just too risky to send my opponent to the Senate. [Hirono]'s not a strong leader, has no history of getting things done and doesn't work well with others," said Lingle.
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