COVID-19 shows us there's a lot more we can and must do to improve quality of life for everyone
The pandemic disclosed what we knew: the number of working families living on the financial edge was way too high. The legislature began this session with a consensus on chipping away at the costs of living—housing, child care, wages and taxes—that make life challenging for many residents even in good times.
The present impacts will likely push more people onto this bracket. Many residents who had little to no savings, quickly lost their jobs (including multiple jobs) and with their jobs their health-care insurance. Like other communities throughout the country, others had to continue to work in healthcare and other areas deemed “essential” but lowly paid (like grocery clerks), opening themselves to continued health risks.
We need to still address those quality of life needs, including looking seriously at single payer health care (rather than linked to employment), paid family and medical leave like other industrialized nations. Hawaii also needs to subsidize for sale homes (as it does rentals) to bring prices down for local working families; the budget includes money to pay for housing infrastructure. Our tax structure should provide more help for these residents.