Non-profit

Grassroot Institute of Hawaii

The Grassroot Institute of Hawaii is a non-partisan public policy think tank promoting individual liberty, economic freedom, and government accountability. [1] Its primary policy concerns are changing the Jones Act, protectionist maritime legislation that makes living in U.S. insular areas more expensive; reforming health care in Hawaii; taxes; housing affordability; and privatization. [2]

The Grassroot Institute of Hawaii is an affiliate member of the State Policy Network, a coalition of free-market state-level policy organizations. [3] While the Grassroot Institute of Hawaii is non-partisan, members of its staff have affiliations with the Republican and Libertarian Parties.

Activity

The Grassroot Institute of Hawaii advocates for changing the Jones Act, protectionist legislation that restricts shipping between U.S.-controlled ports. [4] Grassroot Institute has claimed that Jones Act rules cost Hawaiian families $1,800 annually, adding to the state’s already higher-than-average cost of living. The Institute’s study of the Jones Act also reports that it costs Hawaii $148 million in lost tax revenue and 9,100 in lost jobs, and claims that eliminating the Act’s requirement to only use U.S.-built ships would save Hawaii $532 million a year, create 3,800 jobs, and produce $67 million in tax revenue. [5]

The Grassroot Institute of Hawaii supports privatizing public services in order to cut the state budget. The Institute claims that competition incentivizes private contractors to submit low bids for contracts, thereby cutting state costs. The state would also save on the costs of pension and health benefits. [6]

The Grassroot Institute of Hawaii advocates for free-market changes to the health care system based on competition and a shift toward self-payment approaches from insurance-payment for routine services. Additionally, the Institute supports reforming the Food and Drug Administration to lower generic drug prices, replacing patents with cash prizes for new pharmaceutical developments, subsidizing the needy with cash instead of medical insurance coverage, and relying more on federalism in order to formulate health care policy. [7]

The Grassroot Institute of Hawaii claims that Governor David Ige’s (D) proposed budget will result in a tax hike, simply referred to as “other revenues” in his plan. The Institute claims that a tax hike will make Hawaii more expensive, compounding tax and regulations that are not business friendly and a high cost of living. Instead, the Institute advocates for the creation of a balanced budget with a “meaningful” spending cap. [8]

The Grassroot Institute of Hawaii supports zoning reform in order to address Hawaii’s so-called housing crisis. The Institute bases its recommendations on a “zoning reform toolkit” developed by the State Policy Network, and includes allowing houses in commercial areas, outlawing single-family zoning, enacting a Permit Freedom Act, and removing limitations on building height. [9]

Funding

The Grassroot Institute of Hawaii is funded by donations from individuals, corporations, and foundations. While the Grassroot Institute of Hawaii does not disclose its donors, tax filings indicate notable donations from the Roe Foundation ($155,000 between 2005 and 2016),[10] Donors Capital Fund ($587,500 between 2005 and 2010), [11] and Donors Trust ($362,562 between 2002 and 2017). [12]

People

Staff

Keliʻi Akina works as president and CEO of the Grassroot Institute of Hawaii and serves as trustee-at-large for the Office of Hawaiian Affairs. [13]

Joe Kent serves as executive vice president of the Grassroot Institute of Hawaii and formerly was a student fellow at the Foundation for Economic Education. [14] Kent ran as a Libertarian candidate for Hawaii State Senate in 2016 and for the U.S. House of Representatives in 2014. [15]

Scholars

Grassroot Institute Scholars consult and advise the Grassroot Institute of Hawaii staff on policy initiatives.

John Dunham was a former senior economist for the New York City Mayor’s Office, the New York City Comptroller’s Office, the Port Authority of New York and New Jersey, and Philip Morris. [16]

Dan Mitchell is founder of the Center for Freedom and Prosperity. Mitchell formerly served as an economist for former Senator Bob Packwood (R-OR) and the U.S. Senate Finance Committee, and as a director of tax and budget policy at Citizens for a Sound Economy. [17]

Randal O’Toole is a senior fellow with the Cato Institute. [18]

Gale Pooley sits on the board of HumanProgress.org and is a fellow with the Discovery Institute. [19]

Ken Schoolland works as the vice president for international relations at Liberty International and as a member of the Mont Pelerin Society. Schoolland formerly served as chair of the Libertarian Party of Hawaii. [20]

Ilya Shapiro works as a senior fellow in constitutional studies at the Cato Institute and is editor-in-chief of the Cato Supreme Court Review. [21]

Robert Thomas works as the managing attorney for the Pacific Legal Foundation’s Hawaii Center. [22]

Tom Yamachika works as the president of the Tax Foundation of Hawaii. [23]

References

  1. “About.” Grassroot Institute of Hawaii. Accessed January 20, 2021. https://www.grassrootinstitute.org/about/. ^
  2. “Blog.” Grassroot Institute of Hawaii. Accessed January 20, 2021. https://www.grassrootinstitute.org/blog/. ^
  3. “The Network: Hawaii.” State Policy Network, 2021. Accessed January 13, 2021. https://spn.org/directory/#HI. ^
  4. Kazenoff, Harry. “The Jones Act’s Strange Bedfellows.” Capital Research Center. Capital Research Center, December 14, 2018. https://capitalresearch.org/article/the-jones-acts-strange-bedfellows/. ^
  5. Kent, Joe. “The Jones Act adds to Hawaii’s high costs, so update it for today’s world.” Grassroot Institute of Hawaii, August 13, 2020. Accessed January 20, 2021. https://www.grassrootinstitute.org/2020/08/the-jones-act-adds-to-hawaiis-high-costs-so-update-it-for-todays-world/. ^
  6. Kent, Joe. “Enlist private sector to help trim state, county budgets.” Grassroot Institute of Hawaii, November 16, 2020. Accessed January 20, 2021. https://www.grassrootinstitute.org/2020/11/enlist-private-sector-to-help-trim-state-county-budgets/. ^
  7. Akina, Kel’i’i. “High medical costs another threat to Hawaii taxpayers.” Grassroot Institute of Hawaii, March 22, 2019. Accessed January 20, 2021. https://www.grassrootinstitute.org/2019/03/high-medical-costs-another-threat-to-hawaii-taxpayers/. ^
  8. Akina, Kel’i’i. “Last thing Hawai needs right now is more taxes.” Grassroot Institute of Hawaii, January 9, 2021. Accessed January 20, 2021. https://www.grassrootinstitute.org/2021/01/last-thing-hawai-needs-right-now-is-more-taxes/. ^
  9. Kent, Joe. “What we can do to lower the cost of housing in Hawaii.” Grassroot Institute of Hawaii, January 20, 2021. Accessed January 20, 2021. https://www.grassrootinstitute.org/2021/01/what-we-can-do-to-lower-the-cost-of-housing-in-hawaii/. ^
  10. The Roe Foundation, Return of Private Foundation (Form 990-PF), 2005-2016, Part XV, Line 3a. ^
  11. Donors Capital Fund, Return of Organization Exempt From Income Tax (Form 990), 2005-2010, Schedule I, Part II. ^
  12. Donors Trust, Return of Organization Exempt From Income Tax (Form 990), 2002-2017, Schedule I, Part II. ^
  13. “Our Team.” Grassroot Institute of Hawaii. Accessed January 17, 2021. https://www.grassrootinstitute.org/our-team/. ^
  14. “Our Team.” Grassroot Institute of Hawaii. Accessed January 17, 2021. https://www.grassrootinstitute.org/our-team/. ^
  15. “Joe Kent (Hawaii).” Ballotpedia. Accessed January 17, 2021. https://ballotpedia.org/Joe_Kent_(Hawaii). ^
  16. “Grassroot Scholars.” Grassroot Institute of Hawaii. Accessed January 17, 2021. https://www.grassrootinstitute.org/grassroot-scholars/. ^
  17. “Grassroot Scholars.” Grassroot Institute of Hawaii. Accessed January 17, 2021. https://www.grassrootinstitute.org/grassroot-scholars/. ^
  18. “Grassroot Scholars.” Grassroot Institute of Hawaii. Accessed January 17, 2021. https://www.grassrootinstitute.org/grassroot-scholars/. ^
  19. “Grassroot Scholars.” Grassroot Institute of Hawaii. Accessed January 17, 2021. https://www.grassrootinstitute.org/grassroot-scholars/. ^
  20. “Our Team: Dr. Ken Schoolland.” Liberty International, 2021. Accesesd January 17, 2021. https://liberty-intl.org/our-team/. ^
  21. “Grassroot Scholars.” Grassroot Institute of Hawaii. Accessed January 17, 2021. https://www.grassrootinstitute.org/grassroot-scholars/. ^
  22. “Grassroot Scholars.” Grassroot Institute of Hawaii. Accessed January 17, 2021. https://www.grassrootinstitute.org/grassroot-scholars/. ^
  23. “Grassroot Scholars.” Grassroot Institute of Hawaii. Accessed January 17, 2021. https://www.grassrootinstitute.org/grassroot-scholars/. ^

Coalition Memberships

  1. State Policy Network (SPN)
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