One issue is clearly the biggest facing not just Hawaii Island, but the whole state, Malama Solomon says.
“Energy and the high cost of electricity,” said Solomon, who is seeking the Democratic nomination for the newly created state Senate District 4.
It’s an issue Solomon tackled this legislative session after being appointed District 3 senator by Gov. Neil Abercrombie.
She introduced legislation to fast-track the development of more geothermal energy, including measures Abercrombie signed. Those measures will expedite expanding geothermal production here, she said.
Solomon also supported a proposed interisland, undersea cable to connect the islands.
She said she’s looking forward to seeing what actions the Public Utilities Commission recommends the state take with regard to such a cable.
Reforms to energy production and reduction of energy costs are vital to Hawaii’s economy, she said.
“You can’t attract jobs if you don’t have affordable energy,” Solomon said. “Your whole economy is predicated on affordable energy.”
The state and its residents spend nearly $6 billion annually on imported oil, she said, pointing out if even half of that remained in the state, it would be an economic boon.
The Department of Education should have been able to find funding for school buses, Solomon said, but the way the department budgets its $1.2 billion in state funding makes it incredibly difficult for the department to shift money from one line item to another.
“The DOE needs some restructuring in terms of where it’s allocating its money,” she said. “The way it budgets, it uses archaic software. It’s a complicated situation.”
Department officials will wait until the last minute, then bring up the issue of bus funding because it gets parents’ attention. It’s a political move, Solomon said.
She also questioned handing off some budgeting duties to school principals, noting that budgeting for a big school like Konawaena or Kealakehe high schools is a big task to take on.
Solomon said she doesn’t support increasing any taxes.
This term, Solomon said she did a lot of work for the Department of Land and Natural Resources, including working on the Public Land Development Corp., and she focused her efforts on improvements to Honokohau Harbor.
She’s a “big supporter” of Abercrombie’s “New Day in Hawaii” plan, she said.
Other items on which Solomon worked include funding for the Kona judiciary complex, work on the community college campus and funding for repairs and retrofitting at Big Island hospitals.