McKelvey wants to continue progress on West Side issues
LAHAINA — Citing four years of “solid progress on the vexing issues that have been facing the West Maui community for years,” State Rep. Angus McKelvey wants to continue representing the Tenth District at the Hawaii Legislature.
“Not only have we had amazing success in securing the funds needed for these essential projects, but we’ve got them going and we’ve made good progress in changing the laws so that future infrastructure projects can be completed quicker and with less cost,” said McKelvey (D), who faces Republican Ramon Kitaichi Madden in Tuesday’s General Election.
First elected in 2006, McKelvey has served as vice-chair of the House Consumer Protection and Commerce Committee. During the last biennium, colleagues chose him to to chair the House Economic Revitalization, Business and Military Affairs Committee.
“While the immense budget deficit — which was created by outside forces — curtailed some of the things we were trying to do, like the Work Share Program, which would have helped businesses retain their employees, and the remodeling and home improvement tax credit, we did fast-track a bill that saved Maui’s small businesses by stopping impending unemployment insurance (UI) rate hikes that would have raised the UI costs for businesses by almost 300 percent,” said the 42-year-old lawmaker.
According to McKelvey, the three biggest issues Hawaii faces are the economy, education and healthcare.
If reelected to a third term, McKelvey said he will push for the Work Share Program again, as well as other tax incentives for small businesses for investment and capital goods.
“I think a vibrant capital goods/investment credit aimed at those who are investing in small businesses, or to help them pay for material expenses, will help free up the capital that people need to expand where they feel it will do their business the most good,” he explained.
Looking to education, McKelvey supports conducting a financial management audit of the Department of Education and co-introduced a measure (HCR 56) that passed through the House last session. The measure died in the Senate.
“But I am confident that since we were successful on the House side last year, we can hopefully make more headway next year, should the voters choose me to represent them again,” McKelvey said, adding that he also supported giving principals and teachers more authority in prioritizing repairs and improvements.
Rep. McKelvey wants to explore the idea of establishing locally elected school boards and transforming the state Board of Education into a panel comprised of members elected by each county’s school board.
“This way, you retain the benefits of a statewide system — such as using the GET (general excise tax), most of which is generated by visitors — to fund education instead of just Maui property taxes, like what is done in other areas on the Mainland,” he said.
He noted that the state school system saves taxpayers money on purchases of food, equipment and other costs through bulk purchasing. “But you now have a Maui-only elected school board now making many of the other decisions that are now being made by a state board,” he added.
Turning to healthcare, McKelvey said the state expects to have about a $50 million surplus going into the next session.
“Last year we were able to plug the Medicare gap with federal dollars, so costs and benefits would remain stable, but now those dollars are due to expire, and we have to look at these costs and see how we are going to address them.” McKelvey said, adding that he would lobby Hawaii’s federal delegation for Medicaid support.
If he returns to the House representing District Ten (Lahaina, Kaanapali, Kapalua, Maalaea and Kihei), McKelvey will reintroduce his Medical Enterprise Zone Bill that passed the House but stalled in the Senate Ways and Means Committee at the end of the year. The measure would allow health care entities to claim GET exemptions and regulatory relief for the construction of emergency and long-term health care facilities, as well as medical education, research and development firms, in West Maui and other specific areas.
In addition to serving as a legislator, McKelvey also works as a part-time graphic artist and production consultant. He also helps with his family’s small business.
McKelvey, who was born in Honolulu and raised in Lahaina, said that growing up in West Maui and being part of the community inspired him to get involved with civic affairs. It was his family’s involvement in community organizations that inspired him to join organizations such as Lahaina Rotary Club and LahainaTown Action Committee as a volunteer.
“I didn’t volunteer for these great groups because I was going to run for office,” McKelvey said. “I joined them simply because I grew up with family community involvement and wanted to continue the tradition of giving back, because it was helping to make our hometown a better place to live,” he explained.
“When I decided to run in 2006, it was because I was frustrated — along with the rest of the town — that these much-needed projects were being ignored in the State House,” he said.
McKelvey, who earned a Bachelor’s Degree in Political Science from Whittier College, worked as a legislative aide under Sen. Rick Reed, where he learned how the state budget is crafted in the House.
“Since I have been able to get these things going quickly, and am confident that as long as we can continue to secure the positive return on our tax dollars for West Maui and reinvent government for all the people of Hawaii, I am running for another term,” he said.
“As long as I can give back to the West Side community in a positive way at the State House, then I will ask for the public’s support in representing them there.”
In the House, McKelvey works with other state representatives from small districts and supports them in their endeavors.
“That way, when we asked for support for the things that are happening in Lahaina, we were able to get it and also provide opportunities for their communities,” he explained.
“The reality is that from Hilo to Hanalei, there are a lot of communities in Hawaii, like West Maui, that are having issues similar to ours,” McKelvey said of his approach.
“This election, I humbly ask for the support of the people of West Maui in helping me continue to keep moving things forward, so we can realize the promises of the past while setting the stage for a brighter tomorrow,” McKelvey said.
“So much progress has been made on these things we’ve been waiting on, but there is much left to do — not only on our own community issues, but on the big subjects like economy, education, health care and more. I pledge to work hard for you in Honolulu to continue to ensure that we will bring back the resources from the state level to improve our quality of life, so we can keep Lahaina and all of Maui the special place it is to all of us,” he concluded.
(Madden was interviewed in the Sept. 2 issue. His profile will be posted on the Lahaina News website this week.)