As Hawaii's leading free-market public policy "think tank”, Grassroot Institute brings together the work of leading researchers from Hawaii and across the nation and world to promote solutions that serve the people of the Aloha state. The following is a summary of our work on some key issues. Our reports and articles are available at www.GrassrootInstitute.org/blog.
Government spending, taxes and accountability
We believe that government fiscal policies have resulted in Hawaii's ranking as one of the least economically viable states both for consumers and small businesses. High levels of taxation, government spending and lack of a balanced budget (although mandated by law) have produced an unsustainable economy. For example, compared with all other states, Hawaii has the highest per capita level of unfunded liabilities for state pension and health funds. A second example is the government's irresponsible commitment of tax-payer resources to projects such as Fixed-RailTransit without adequate consideration of Hawaii's economic condition and actual affordability.
Economic Protectionism and Jones Act
We believe that economic protectionism has crippled Hawaii's ability to compete in the global marketplace. Protectionist policies have resulted in prices that are up to 30% higher than anywhere else the nation. One of the most significant causes of this situation is the United States federal statute Jones Act which regulates shipping to the detriment of Hawaii and other non-contiguous United States regions. Grassroot Institute plays a lead role in facilitating all who are working to free Hawaii from this protectionist situation.
We strongly support Hawaii's schools and educators, but believe that citizens deserve greater choice as to what schools and type of education their tax dollars subsidize. The government has a duty to consider the responsible choices of parents for their children's education. Grassroot Institute promotes the improvement of Hawaii's schools through public and private partnerships, and through accountability to appropriate standards for performance.
Empowering Hawaiians - The Akaka Bill and the Native Hawaiian Roll (Act 195)
We promote the economic and social advancement of all people in the state of Hawaii including Native Hawaiians. Keeping with the Constitution of the United States and the 1840 Constitution of the Kingdom of Hawaii, we affirm the equality under law of all people and oppose efforts to create a separate race-based nation. Such an entity, if established, would actually work against Hawaiian empowerment by adding tribal layer of government leaders over Native Hawaiian participants. Additionally, this would be harmful to the Aloha spirit by fostering unnecessary divisiveness in society.