Collins says small-business growth key to improving economy


The government doesn’t need new programs or laws to accomplish goals like improving the economy, Republican U.S. Senate hopeful Charles Collins says.

Small businesses, for example, create 70 percent of American jobs, and programs are already in place to provide loans and training to small-business owners, he said.

Working with the government could boost the economy, too.

“A lot of people who are in business, they don’t contract with the federal government,” Collins said.

They should, especially businesses owned by minorities and women, because of federal mandates to contract with such companies, he added.

Collins, 65, a retired business owner now living in Pahoa, said he took advantage of another federal program, which pairs federal retirees with small-business owners, when he started a business after leaving the military. The retiree helped him with his business taxes, Collins said.

Looking at the national economy, Collins said the United States needs to normalize its relationship with China via trade.

“There’s starting to be a lot of tension with China,” he said.

But China is a leader in the solar industry, and the U.S. could relax some of the restrictions on importing solar panels and other products from China, he added.

“As energy is an issue, I’d really like to get on a committee where I could do something about that,” he said.

Also relating to energy, Collins said he would like to see more vehicles, particularly buses, using electric motors. A California company recently put electric motors in helicopters and dropped the operating cost for the helicopters to $5 an hour. That kind of savings for buses would allow the state to operate more buses and, noting recent proposed cutbacks to school bus routes, help more kids continue riding buses to school.

Collins proposed taking a look at the Jones Act, which requires ships moving between domestic American ports to be American-owned, -flagged and -crewed.

“It’s an extra duty or tariff that in the long run does more harm than good,” he said.

Doctors should be getting “a larger piece of the pie,” when it comes to Medicare and Medicaid reimbursements. Those reimbursement levels are often one of the top reasons physicians give when they close their practices in Hawaii.

He said he sees ways to decrease the federal defense budget while helping doctors at the same time, by major changes to the Veterans Affairs Administration. He said the current system, with VA hospitals and other facilities, is costly. He’d rather contract the services out to doctors, giving them the money to build better practices, and give money to hospitals to offer more veterans services on site.

“There’d be better facilities, better staff,” he said, as well as “much improved health care for people that don’t have insurance.”

That would be “a gigantic windfall to medicine,” he added.

The surplus revenue, after VA facilities were closed, could be used for other federal programs, he said.