As former educator, I understand how critical it is to evaluate program budget requests and to set the criteria for evaluation of these appropriations. This past term, I will worked toward the development of geothermal energy as a solution to breaking our dependence on imported oil and fossil fuels. I have also endeavored to create a synergy between our community, our public schools and our institutions of higher learning to become more collaborative; and work together with all stakeholders to develop a vision that will guide decision making and expenditures over the next century.
Since the loss of sugar, agriculture in the First District has struggled due to the high cost of production and imported oil. To stimulate the economy we must encourage investment in energy self-sufficiency. By nurturing a source of cheaper, reliable energy that is not susceptible to the world oil market, we will be able to provide the advantage necessary to grow our economy and support agri-business. This session, I am working to support legislation that will encourage the exploration and development of geothermal sources. Coupled with this geothermal effort is fostering the research into the development of hydrogen as a reliable replacement for gasoline.
I believe that there must be a greater synergy between our educational institutions and the community. The University of Hawaii must not only graduate students, but work with business to insure that there is sufficient positions available for their graduates. This means working to enhance business opportunities and leveraging the unique position of the University as a research institution to foster the growth of business in the community.
In K-12 education, the community must be allowed to become a more integral part of the decision making process. The School Community Council must be empowered to provide meaningful input into school decisions and the school must be a more open, democratic and collaborative.
We are currently working with the University of Hawaii John A Burns School of Medicine and the Hilo Medical Center in supporting the Rural Residency Program in Hilo. This is a multi-disciplinary clinic in which doctors, nurses, and pharmacist work together in providing patient care. Studies show that medical residents have a greater chance of opening their practice where they have completed their residency and this is an investment being made now to address the shortage. The plan is to replicate this model in other rural areas which will increase the likelihood of physicians opening a practice in the area as well as possibly lowering the cost of medicine by diverting emergency room usage into the clinical setting.
It is important, especially in rural communities to insure that there are sufficient services and resources to support our growing elderly population. Toward this end the Hamakua Elder Care Partners have been working to create an ADRC setting at the North Hawaii Education and Research Center so that for the first time, service and program providers will be present in the Honoka'a Community. There is also a community plan that encouraged the creation of the Hale Ho'ola Long Term Care Facility, and envisions the development of adult day care, an alzheimer's unit, and assisted living complex. This could serve as a model for other rural communities.
Core state services need to be preserved and that if necessary, taxes increased to meet these needs. The legislature must develop standards or goals that are to be achieved for each budget item and then carefully evaluate if these goals have been met. This over-site function is important if we are to have an effective and efficient assessment of government expenditures on programs and services. In this way, legislator's will have an objective standard which is known in advance by which to review and evaluate expenditures and determine priorities.