How will you respond?
One of the measures of a successful government is how it copes with disaster.
Mayor Harry Kim and Gov. David Ige’s administrations did a fine job during the lava flow. But nearly eight months later, there are still no roads underway to reach the thousands of victims whose properties were accessed off of Highway 132 and Highway 137, with the majority of homes lost off of Highway 137 (500 out of a total loss of 700 homes).
Through our federal taxes, we all support the Federal Emergency Management Agency, hoping that we will never need its services. When a disaster serious enough to qualify for FEMA support happens, victims are dependent upon a pro-active, successful local governmental response, reaching out for FEMA funds and other resources.
FEMA covered 124 disasters in 2018 through programs geared for floods and fires, leaving Hawaii with the challenge of meeting deadlines intended to rapidly get recovery underway.
Without clearly demonstrated political commitment to restore 132 and 137, affected property owners are concerned that the government response will be too little, too late. History does not judge well governments that fail property owners after disasters. Remember New Orleans?
The Kim administration has requested $155 million from the state Legislature. The Legislature reasonably expects a clear explanation of how the money will be used, and that should include restoring access to property owners who depended on 132 and 137.
By the same token, the legislative assembly should recognize that it too will be judged by how well it responds to the needs of the lava flow victims, and it is simply too early to put hard numbers on restoring roads in still-hot lava fields.
Unfortunately, money must be allocated now because of the length of the budget cycle.
Now is the time to grasp opportunity and not leave the next generation to have to rebuild these roads with Hawaii-based taxpayer money. Now is the time for Hawaii to show the nation that it is a “can do” state with a big heart.
Lisbon, New Hampshire (owner of Vacationland home destroyed by lava)
Dear Gov. Ige
Regarding the Real Property Tax Review Working Group: First of all, who makes up the group, and just what is their background and experience in suggesting that small agriculture lots of less than one acre be reclassified to residential tax rates? These properties were purchased as ag land.
Instead of always thinking of taxing Hawaii residents, why not tax out-of-state owners?
Also, Gov. Ige, why is Hawaii the only state not to get our share of the $1.5 billion offered by the U.S. Department of Transportation for infrastructure repairs? That’s right, Ige preferred to increase our gas tax!
Great going, Democrats.