For the longest time, the small businesspeople of Hawaii have comforted each other with rueful laughs and their club’s secret motto: “Hawaii: Live in paradise, work in hell.” To put it mildly, Hawaii has not traditionally had the most business-friendly reputation. At least not for the non-Doles and non-Hiltons among us. And while some progress is being made (including a slight awareness that it isn’t necessary to completely handcuff small businesses from their inception and the election of more business-friendly politicians), there’s still a general lack on knowledge about how the Hawaii Legislature helps and hurts small business in Hawaii. (And don’t disregard the importance of small business on the economy. There are more than 100,000 small businesses in Hawaii bringing in over $2-3 billion in income annually (according to the Small Business Administration).
Enter PAYCHECKS Hawaii, a non-profit and non-partisan initiative of Smart Business Hawaii, whose unenviable job it is to rate all of Hawaii’s legislators on their business savvy. The Paychecks ratings are based upon a combination of key votes (especially tax and fee increases); efforts to decrease or increase spending and the size of government; actions regarding employer mandates and labor bills (from worker’s comp to union issues and so on); conduct in hearings, responsiveness, and accessibility; and sponsorship/advocacy for initiatives to help the business climate. Paychecks has just released its ratings for the most recent legislative session, and it looks like quite a few of Hawaii’s legislators need a remedial education in business and helping the economy. Every legislator was given a grade from 1(the best) to 5(the worst). So first the good news:
In the Hawaii Senate, two Senators got the highest score–Fred Hemmings and Sam Slom. (Both Republicans. Two Democrats, however, got the next highest score of “2”–Robert Bunda and Josh Green.)
In the House, the highest ratings went to Lynn Berbano Finnegan (R), Barbara Marumoto (R), and Kymberly Marcos Pyne (R). Scoring the second best rating were Tom Brower (D), Corinne Ching (R), Cynthia Thielen (R), and Gene Ward (R)
And now the bad news. There were so many second-worst “4” scores that listing them here would make this more like a roll call of the Legislature than a blog entry. So let’s go with a simple Hall of Shame.
Scoring a worst score of “5” in the Senate were Gary Hooser (D) and Dwight Takamine (D).
And the dreaded “5”s in the House went to Michael Magaoay (D), Hermina Morita (D), Blake Oshiro (D), Marcus Oshiro (D), Calvin Say (D), and Roy Takumi (D).
Not good. Maybe it’s time we had a few of them stay after school and write, “I will not handicap Hawaii’s economic future,” on the blackboard until it sinks in.