HONOLULU (HawaiiNewsNow) — When Waipio Valley residents blocked the public road into the valley, it was just the latest clash between tourists wanting to see Hawaii’s treasured places and locals feeling overwhelmed.
Republican Duke Aiona says he understands.
“They were concerned that there wasn’t enough education for tourists to understand, you know, what that value was and where it is now,” Aiona said.
While both candidates support user fees for accessing popular sites, Green goes further with a $50 fee on each visitor, exempting only toddlers and residents.
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- HNN meets with Democratic gubernatorial candidate Josh Green
- HNN sits down with Republican gubernatorial candidate Duke Aiona
“The important thing is that you can get fees from travelers, because what you want to do is simultaneously raise money for climate change, for the infrastructure we need, for parks and even for health programs. ‘green energy,’ Green said.
He also says he thinks a large fee would actually discourage visitors who spend less from coming.
“And at the same time, you want to slightly decrease the total number of people who travel here on very cheap vacations.”
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At $50 per person, the fee could bring in hundreds of millions a year.
But Aiona says it will do more harm than good.
“It’s a ridiculous tax, he calls it a royalty, but it’s a tax,” Aiona said. “We can’t keep taxing our tourists because they’re going to vote, they’re going to vote with their feet.”
Aiona said visitors are already complaining about fees that he says can exceed the cost of their accommodations, and that competing destinations will use Hawaii’s fees to make themselves more welcoming.
Amid all their disagreements, both candidates actually agree that Hawaii should dramatically expand the public school system by offering pre-kindergarten to every family.
“I’m very supportive of early education,” Green said. “Now, having said that, it’s $200 million just to build the classrooms. The next step will actually be a plan to support the 18,000 keiki a year who are three years old and 18,000 keiki a year who are four years old to enter public education.
Aiona says he also supports pre-K in public schools, but is not ready to give the Department of Education a blank check. ). I really believe we have enough money in there. And if we don’t, we increase,” Aiona said.
But unlike the K-12 education, which is mandatory in Hawaii, Aiona isn’t sure about requiring a pre-K.
“Whether I’m compulsory or not, I’m not sure because a lot of parents are not interested in their children going to a public preschool.
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