Lowering taxes, slashing electricity costs, limiting red tape and developing an educated workforce will help foster business and create jobs in Hawaii, said Dave Bateman, a Republican candidate vying for the state House District 5 seat.
That four-pronged approach, Bateman said, will position the state to attract new businesses and give existing businesses the wherewithal to expand.
Such an increase would create jobs, helping to reduce Hawaii County’s unemployment rate and the percentage of residents living below the poverty level.
“We’re at the bottom of the list of attractive states for business — it’s bad,” he said, citing two surveys that place Hawaii 48th and 34th in the nation for business attractiveness. “Unless we take care of these four things, we will not be competitive with the rest of the country.”
Bateman is seeking the Republican nomination for House District 5, which stretches from west Ka‘u north to Keauhou in North Kona, during the Aug. 11 primary election.
While the state House of Representatives has seen few successful Republican legislators, Bateman said his common-sense approach, relevant legislative experience, business and law background, and ability to work “across the aisle” with others will set him apart.
“I have the experiential background to be a good legislator,” he said, citing his recent experience drafting coffee-related bills. “Can I work with the other side of the aisle? Absolutely. I’ve proven with the bills I’ve worked on this legislative session that (a party line) doesn’t matter — it’s not about me, it’s about the people.”
Bateman said if elected, he would request an independent audit of the state Department of Education to determine how best to go about improving Hawaii’s public education system.
“We have got to see where we are good and where we are poor,” he said about the need for an independent audit. “What are we getting for our money? Being ranked 44 of 51 — we are at the bottom of the pack — we are not getting our money’s worth, and that’s why we need the audit.”
Because decentralizing the Department of Education is something unlikely in the near future, Bateman said he would look to establishing “local school advisory boards” comprising teachers, administrators, parents and students to direct curriculum as a means of helping improve education.
He would also support reprioritizing the state’s education budget to ensure that students have school busing available.
To reduce Hawaii’s reliance on fossil fuels for energy, Bateman proposes phasing out coal and oil generation plants; bumping up the island’s geothermal energy capacity to 100 percent; outfitting homes with photovoltaic systems; developing means to store alternative energy; and updating infrastructure to allow all alternative energy sources onto the electric grid.
He claimed those changes will effectively cut electricity rates in half to about 20 cents per kilowatt-hour. He also would like to see the island sell geothermal energy to the other islands.
On increasing geothermal production, Bateman said he is “up for it” and supports the island becoming 100 percent independent of fossil fuels.
Funding such a venture should be the responsibility of private developers, he added.
However, he does have concerns over toxic gases and other public safety issues associated with geothermal energy production.
“We just need to work together to minimize the risk,” he explained. “Health and safety are always No. 1 — but there is a way to do it.”
In the area of tax increases, Bateman replied with a resounding “no” to whether he would vote for a hike. He called user fees just another way government taxes citizens, but would consider a fee if it is justified by an economic impact analysis.