Name on ballot:
Maurice T Morita
State House – District 36
WORKING ON. IT
SEMI-RETIRED/RUNNING FOR PUBLIC OFFICE
Previous job history:
PUBLIC SCHOOL TEACHER AT PEARL HARBOR KAI ELEM. SCHOOL 1968 TO 1973; MANANA SCHOOL 2015-2017 / HAWAII STATE TEACHERS ASSOCIATION (HSTA) 36 YEARS/. LABORER’S UNION TRUST FUND (LECET) 4 YEARS
Previous elected office, if any:
Please describe your qualifications to represent the people of Hawaii.
I WAS A LOBBYIST FOR HSTA AND THE LABORER’S UNIION TRUST FUND. I HAVE LEARNED HOW THE STATE LEGISLATURE WORKS AND NOW I WANT TO TURN THE TABLES, AND BECOME A PUBLIC SERVANT. I LOVE TO HELP PEOPLE AND NOW I WANT TO SERVE THE PEOPLE OF WAIPAHU AND THE STATE OF HAWAII.
What is the most pressing issue facing residents in your district and how would you address the problem?
Education is my #1 priority. We will not be able to resolve all of our problems but in time, when we have an educated community, especially in our Filipino Community, it will improve the quality of life for them and their families. A lot of parents have to work two or three jobs to survive, but if their children have a good education, it will help the families get out of poverty, etc.
Rising inflation has significantly worsened Hawaii’s already high cost of living. What can be done at the state level to help Hawaii residents cope with high consumer prices?
It may help to exempt the purchase of food and medical care from the GET which is our State’s main source of income for a limited time or have an ending date.
Hawaii’s rising gasoline prices are among the highest in the nation. Should Hawaii lower or temporarily suspend state taxes on gasoline to help ease the pain at the pump?
Whatever we do, the gas prices vary according to cost to purchase of barrel of oil. If our transit rail was running to Ala Moana, and the buses go around the community to pick up passengers and drop them off at the rail stations, we could save money on gas and wouldn’t use of cars so often. If the suspension of state taxes on gasoline would lower the prices of gas, I would be in favor of it. But is must have a end date.
Do you support or oppose efforts to slow or limit the number of tourists to Hawaii? Please explain.
It will be very difficult to limit the number of tourists to Hawaii and I will oppose it. As our #1 industry to boost our economy, until we can diversify our economy, it isn’t a good idea to limit tourists to Hawaii.
Can Hawaii’s tourism-dependent economy be diversified, and, if so, what can state government do to support the effort?
Hawaii is so beautiful so we need to share our beauty with people from other countries. From our pandemic experience for 2 1/2 years, we have learned we cannot depend only on tourism. When times are good, tourism will help bring more income in the State of Hawaii. We must diversify our economy so we do not depend only on one industry. We must have tourism and I am in favor of it, but we must find other ways to diversify our economy. One out of the box idea is we have a lot of vacant farm land owned by the State. The State could farm marijuana and export to states that have legalized marijuana like in California, and Las Vegas. I remember growing up on Maui, the Maui Wow marijuana was very popular. We must put our heads together to come out with ideas to diversify our economy.
What is your plan to increase affordable housing in Hawaii, and to help the counties deal with homelessness?
We will need more affordable houses in the future and I will work with Senator Stanley Chang, Senate Housing Committee Chair, and the Hawaii Board of Realtors, to try to find solutions to resolve the shortage of affordable housing in the near future. Senator Chang has studied other countries housing problems like Singapore, etc.
What would you propose to help protect Hawaii residents’ health during the continuing COVID-19 pandemic?
The Covid-19 virus will never go away, and the State is treating it like the flu. We need to continue to encourage our residents to get fully vaccinated with the two booster shots for now. We have close to 78% of our residents fully vaccinated and now the younger children can be fully vaccinated from Covid-19. We still should wear masks indoors and outdoors in large social groups. We have to be vigilant, and if you are sick, stay home so your co-workers don’t get sick, too. Even with the flu shots we take every year, there is still approximately 5,000 people die every year from the flu. Even if you are fully vaccinated, if you have underlying health conditions, one has to be more vigilant and take the precautions by becoming fully vaccination, wearing your masks indoor and outdoors, and stay home if you are sick.
Hawaii isn’t likely to see a repeat of this year’s $2 billion revenue surplus which allowed higher-than-normal spending on state programs and projects. If elected, what will your top spending priorities be?
When I was a lobbyist, there was a study if the DOE were underfunded completed by a 3rd party accounting firm. They found the DOE was underfunded but at that time, the State didn’t have funds to take care of it. If we allot more monies to the DOE, I don’t want it to be “lump sum budgeting” but line by line budgeting to make sure the monies reach the classrooms. I know the transit rail is a county project but I would like to propose we make the .05% GET permanent but be ear-marked for the operation and maintenance cost of the transit rail (known as O & M). If we can do this, the expense won’t be put on the tax-payers. We also need to have more affordable housing and if elected, I will work with Senator Staney Chang, the Senate Housing Committee Chair and the Hawaii Board of Realtors to help find solutions to solve our shortage of affordable housing in the future. We will also need stronger laws to protect our businesses, especially in Waipahu, from the homeless problems. I would also proposed Lottery for Education and follow how Atlanta, Georgia, did their Lottery for Education. The monies raised will not replace any of the monies from the State but will supplement our education budget for lower and higher education.
What, if anything, should state government do in response to the decision by the U.S. Supreme Court to overturn Roe vs Wade?
If the Supreme Court overturns the Roe vs. Wade, each state can have their own laws so we must protect our women’s rights if the Supreme Court overturns Roe vs. Wade. We need to make sure the Roe vs. Wade law is passed in Hawaii if the Supreme Court overturns the law. we have now.
What should state government do to support and improve public education in Hawaii?
The State of Hawaii needs to go back to Line Item Budgeting vs. what they have now called Lump Sum Budgeting. The change of the budget concept now needs to be reviewed because the Dept. of Education needs to be more transparent in their budgeting process. We also need to make sure the money goes where its needed more, at the school-level.
What reforms, if any, would you propose to make local government more transparent to the public?
In the past, there were a lot of back-doors deals made. We need to make sure those type of meetings/deals are prohibited with a huge fine if held, and more decisions need to be made in the public eyes to be transparent. The State of Hawaii should review the Federal laws re Open Meetings and should have stricter laws like the Sunshine Act that we presently follow. We should review the Sunshine Act to see if improvements can be made to make sure we have open meetings. I know its frustrating because as a past lobbyist, I would attend a meeting just to hear what the decision the committee made, not openly but behind back doors. They just take the votes in public. We need to change the process so we have more open meetings.
Do you support or oppose the construction of the Thirty Meter Telescope on the Big Island and why?
I UNDERSTAND WHY THE HAWAIIANS ARE UPSET BUT THE ADVANTAGES TO HAVE THE THIRTY METER TELESCOPE ON THE BIG ISLAND OUT-WEIGHS THE DISADVANTAGES NOT TO HAVE IT. THE UNIVERSITY OF HAWAII-HILO WILL BECOME ONE OF THE TOP COLLEGES IN ASTRONOMY IF THE THIRTY METER TELESCOPE IS BUILT THERE.
Is there anything more that you would like voters to know about you?
I HAVE A BALLROOM & LINE DANCING CLASS AT THE WAIPAHU UNITED CHURCH OF CHRIST COMMUNITY HALL, AND MY WIFE, REMY SILVA-MORITA IS FILIPINA AND WE DO A FILIPINO RADIO SHOW ON KKNE 940 AM PINOY POWER RADIO STATION EVERY FRIDAY NIGHTS FROM 7:00 P.M. TO 8:30 P.M. CALLED LIWLIW TI BIAG OR SPICE OF LIFE.
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