Honolulu, HI, MARCH 8, 2018 – The Hawai‘i Appleseed Center on Law and Economic Justice is proud to announce the launch of the Hawai‘i Budget and Policy Center (HBPC) and the selection of Beth Giesting to serve as its Director.

is a local non-profit working to build a Hawai‘i where everyone has genuine opportunity to achieve economic security and fulfill their potential. It changes systems that perpetuate inequality through research, policy development, education, coalition building, and legislative advocacy.

Hawai‘i Appleseed created the Hawai‘i Budget and Policy Center (HBPC) to be a source of accurate, thoughtful, independent and timely research and public policy analysis. HBPC will have a special focus on state and county budget and tax policy, which profoundly affect how Hawai‘i addresses issues of poverty and fairness. The need for HBPC is particularly compelling today given the magnitude of our current challenges, including:

  • Mounting financial pressures on nearly half of Hawai‘i’s residents, who live paycheck-to-paycheck in spite of continued local economic growth;
  • The highest housing costs in the nation, the highest rate of homelessness, and the highest rate of overcrowding in housing—problems that continue to worsen with housing costs increasing at more than twice the rate of increases in wages; and
  • Serious new threats to federal funding for programs that serve low-income and other vulnerable populations.

The HBPC will be a resource to decision-makers and the public, providing relevant, impactful information on tax and program policy to reduce poverty and inequality and foster greater fiscal responsibility. HBPC will also contribute to coalition advocacy efforts through research, creating compelling policy arguments, and developing tools advocates can use. With a broad focus on tax equity, revenue adequacy, budget priorities, and government transparency, HBPC will select projects that are timely, strategic, and likely to increase social justice and equitable prosperity.  The HBPC will have its own dedicated, highly qualified staff but will be housed at and supported by Hawai‘i Appleseed.

The HBPC has been accepted as an introductory member of the State Priorities Partnership (SPP), joining a national network of forty-three budget and tax policy state centers that align their work with that of the esteemed Center on Budget and Policy Priorities (CBPP). Like the CBPP, which is recognized as the “go-to” source of reliable and meaningful research and analysis of budget and tax policy at the federal level, SPP organizations fill the same role at the state level. SPP organizations share policy ideas and research so individual states can tap into the experience of their counterparts across the country.  Only one organization can be a member of the SPP Network in each state. As with other SPP centers, HBPC’s work is expected to be relied upon by a variety of advocates, community-based coalitions, service providers, and state administrative and legislative policy makers. It is designed to become a valuable community asset of expansive impact.

Nick Johnson, Senior Vice President for State Fiscal Policy of the CBPP, remarked “The Hawai‘i Budget and Policy Center, under Beth’s leadership, is the newest member of the State Priorities Partnership. This network of independent, non-partisan, deeply-rooted state-level policy organizations pulls back the curtain on state budgets and taxes, cuts through the jargon and politics, and sheds light on whether policies give everyone an opportunity to prosper and thrive. Because of this work, Hawai‘i lawmakers, community leaders, journalists, and ordinary citizens will have reliable, real-time information to aid sound policy decisions.”

David Reber, President of Hawai‘i Appleseed, stated “The Hawai‘i Appleseed board is gratified by the broad community support that creation of the HBPC has already received and is delighted that Beth Giesting has agreed to serve as its first director. With the financial support of a number of foundations and individuals, and the insights that will be provided by a blue ribbon Advisory Board that will help guide the HBPC, we believe that HBPC will elevate policy analysis and transparency to the next level in Hawai‘i and will be a highly valuable resource for advocates and policy makers.”

Hawai‘i Appleseed has carefully explored the viability and potential value of forming a budget and policy center over the past two years, a process that included an analysis conducted by locally-based Islander Institute, which confirmed the need, appetite and viability of an SPP center in Hawai‘i.  The HBPC has formed a strong Advisory Board, chaired by Randy Moore, to assist the HBPC with its work.

“Beth Giesting will bring to the center a passion for improving the conditions under which Hawai‘i’s financially stressed population labors, a solid understanding of key government functions that address those conditions, and a keen intellect to analyze the impact of public budgets and policies on outcomes that affect these populations,” said Mr. Moore.

Financial commitments to support the staff dedicated to HBPC have been secured from the following foundations: Aloha Foundation, Atherton Family Foundation, Bank of Hawai‘i Foundation, Harold K.L. Castle Foundation, Hawai‘i Community Foundation, HEI Charitable Foundation, HMSA Foundation, Kaiser Foundation Health Plan, Inc. and Wallace Alexander Gerbode Foundation. Members of the Advisory Board have also made personal financial commitments to support the center.

Beth Giesting’s interest in social and economic equity stems from a career in shaping health policy and programs for low-income people paired with a recognition that poor health and the stresses of poverty are intertwined.  Beth was a formative executive director for the Kalihi-Palama Health Center and served as CEO for the Hawai‘i Primary Care Association, advocating for resources for community health centers across the state and the people they serve.  She worked as the state’s healthcare transformation coordinator for both Governors Abercrombie and Ige, where she consulted healthcare stakeholders across the state and best practices across the country to develop a plan for better care and coordination for Hawai‘i.

“It is an honor to be chosen to head up the new Hawai‘i Budget and Policy Center at Hawai‘i Appleseed,” said Ms. Giesting.  “Developing and sharing objective information about the effects of local budget and policy decisions with elected officials and the public is becoming more urgent as the economy and social dynamics of Hawai‘i change.”

For more information, contact:

Gavin Thornton, Co-Executive Director, Hawai‘i Appleseed Center for Law and Economic Justice
(808) 369-2510
gavin@hiappleseed.org

 

Victor Geminiani, Co-Executive Director, Hawai‘i Appleseed Center for Law and Economic Justice
(808) 227-3845
victor@hiappleseed.org

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