Four years ago, the overriding promise was change. With growing economic concerns, people wanted change, hoping it would improve their lives. As "change" is often hard for people, its priority shows how desperately people wanted, if not needed, it. But, change happens no matter what and now it is time to be crystal clear on the change desired.
Change can have many different meanings and the lack of clarity can lead to a lack of process in areas where change is most desired. We must let those running for offices specifically know what we desire and vote for candidates who will deliver the real change we seek.
* Have you done more with less during the economic recession and slow recovery?
* Did you lose equity in your assets (home value, savings, etc.)?
* Are you having an easier or harder time getting funding?
* Do you know people who are still out of work, underemployed or having difficulty entering the job market?
* When our student test scores are still very low and the cost of public education is close to that of private schools, are you satisfied with the public educational system and do you feel the costs are justified and appropriately spent?
* Do you have adequate savings to sustain all of the expenses for you and your immediate family in the event of an emergency for up to one year? If not, six months? Three months?
* Are you aware that in 1983 (29 years ago), a task force studied the problem of Hawaii's unfunded benefits liabilities, recommended significant changes and warned lawmakers about the "impending calamity" if the systems were not reformed? The state's unfunded liabilities debt is reported at more than $22 billion.
* In June 2012, the Institute for Truth in Accounting reported that each taxpayer's burden of the Hawaii state debt is estimated to be $32,700. The national debt, frequently reported as over $16 trillion, is more than $70 trillion, according to the organization when accounting for unfunded liabilities. They estimate your share to be $255,000. How long would it take you to pay off your share, not to mention your family's share?
The bottom line is that we cannot continue to allow broken systems to exist, debt levels to be further raised and unfunded liabilities to soar. That is why debt was question one for all candidates running for office. Debt is paid only two ways - reducing expenses or raising money (in this case, taxes) and we feel the people of Hawaii are taxed enough. It is time for government to change and rein in its spending as we have done in our businesses and at home.
Candidates on all levels (county, state and federal) from both parties (Democrats and Republicans) confirmed over and over again that "things are broken" and have been for a long time. With widespread acknowledgment, it is time to generate change by voting for those who will address these priorities and not pass them off or give the "things could always be better" excuse.
Together, we can stop the insanity. Let us get heads out of the sand and be clear that the change we want is less government (not more), an educational system at the top of success rankings (not the bottom), overhauled health and pension systems to reduce burdens forward (while honoring past promises) and a significant reduction in debt levels without increasing taxes. We owe it to future generations to stop passing the debt buck because that is not the legacy any of us wants to leave.
* Pamela Tumpap is president of the Maui Chamber of Commerce.