The CHANGE Framework

Community & Economy

Government & Civic Engagement

Hawaii’s well-being emerges when its people and communities are active and engaged in civic activities and shared decision-making. The process works when diverse perspectives are valued and citizens can trust their government and civic institutions to be effective and trustworthy.

Indicator: Citizen Participation, Engagement, and Voting
Hawaii’s community is strengthened and served by an effective government powered by engaged and informed citizens. While there are more than 300 citizen-serving boards and commissions serving state and county levels across the Hawaiian Islands, 30% of people in Hawaii (compared to 9% U.S.) cite work schedules and childcare as barriers to civic participation.

Data point

  • With Hawaii’s voter participation rates steadily declining since the 1960s, we now have the lowest voter turnout in the nation. Only 39% of eligible voters participated in the 2018 general election compared to a national average of 50%.

Change Framework Graph 17


Voting rates in Hawaii have been consistently lower than the rest of the U.S. and declining for years, especially for young people of voting age.

Indicator: Energy and Food Sustainability
The lack of available and affordable energy constrains the lives of residents and the economy of our state. While local food production has recently increased after many years of being on the decline, current production rates are not adequate.

Data point

  • Even as Hawaii’s population and need for energy grow, Hawaii has set an ambitious 100% clean energy goal by 2045 - 40% by 2030. By 2017, Hawaii reached 28% of renewable energy sources.

Indicator: Effective and Accountable Agencies and Leadership

In 2014, 57% of Hawaii voters reported they trust the state government. A report by the U.S. Public Interest Research Group (PIRG) ranks Hawaii 44th in the nation for online access to government financial data, meaning that Hawaii has relatively low transparency when it comes to government spending. Hawai’i’s legislative website, however, receives high marks for its information and transparency.

Hawaii’s diverse community of more than 5,500 public charities holds assets of nearly $25.43 billion. Together, they employ 7.7% of Hawaii’s workforce and have revenues representing 8% of the state’s GDP.

Data point

  • Hawaii residents give $625.8 million to charity each year, representing 2.8% of household income.

Change Framework Graph 18

Source: HCF Giving Study, 2015 (SMS Research)

Hawaii residents contribute to charities at a steady pace of 2.8% of household income; an increasing percentage of charitable giving goes to organizations outside of Hawaii (almost doubling since 2006).

Indicator: State Government Unfunded Liabilities
The unfunded liability for pensions and other post-employee benefits costs currently amounts to $25 billion, or $17,500 per Hawaii resident. Liabilities for public worker retirement costs grew when funds from the pension trust were used to finance other government expenses.

Change Framework Graph 19

Source: https://www.pewtrusts.org/en/research-and-analysis/data-visualizations/2014/fiscal-50#ind5 and https://budget.hawaii.gov/wp-content/uploads/2018/12/FB-19-21-BIB-FINAL-12.13.18.pdf

Hawaii’s budget reserve, or Rainy Day Fund, is $376 million, which would cover nine days of operating spending for all four branches of state government. This graph shows great improvement since the fund was depleted during the recession.

Indicator: Strong Social Capital Within and Across Hawaii’s Diverse Communities
Social capital is made up principally of two elements—trust and participation. Research has found that social capital and social supports are highly correlated with improved health and well-being, including longer lives. (OECD Centre for Education Research and Innovation)

Data point

  • Hawaii ranks 36th out of 50 U.S. states for community social health based on attendance at community meetings, participation in committees and groups, and volunteering.

SummaryA higher level of mutual trust and increased civic participation among Hawaii residents would facilitate greater cooperation in economic, political, and social matters.

Efforts Underway

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