Creating Opportunity For Millennials And Others

Rep’n Mililani …State Rep. Beth Fukumoto Chang

With the start of the new year, we’re back to work at the State Capitol.

Last week, I was elected House Minority Leader. I’m very honored to be the first minority leader of the Millennial Generation, but with that honor comes a responsibility to bring more attention to the problems facing my generation, particularly jobs and the economy.

Like many in my generation, I entered the job market during the Great Recession and faced the tough reality of Hawaii’s high cost of living and limited job availability. While those graduating from college today are entering a better job market than I did, our kids are still leaving Hawaii in droves to find better opportunities on the Mainland.

Creating jobs is something that’s easy for politicians to talk about but hard to act on. Part of the problem is that state government is only one small component of job creation.

The global economy is definitely outside the control of Hawaii’s lawmakers, so many times job creation seems like too great a challenge to take on. However, there are changes that we can make to ensure that our state encourages, rather than discourages, private-sector job creation.

This session, I’ve introduced a variety of measures that I think could help us address our economic troubles. One bill would allow equity crowdfunding in Hawaii. This means that an entrepreneur who needs start-up capital for a business, whether it be a tech start-up or a food truck, could go online and raise funds by providing small donors with equity in his or her company.

Another bill would make it easier for sellers of homemade food items to legally sell foods that have been cooked in their own kitchens by changing the state’s certification process.

I’ve also suggested a bill that would provide incentives for businesses along the rail route in order to both encourage business and help make rail profitable by helping it pay for itself.

I’m also working to encourage public-private partnerships (PPP), particularly for affordable housing and transportation. PPPs are just one tool government can use to get projects done faster and at a lower cost. Those of us who have to drive through construction traffic daily understand how long these projects can take, and it certainly would help our economy and quality of life if we could move them along quicker.

Of course, concerns over jobs and the economy are not exclusive to Millennials. Most families know what it’s like to go without a job, squeeze three generations into a household or gasp at the electric bill. The problem is that politicians haven’t been very good at addressing those problems. But, with a potential military reduction on the horizon and jobs at stake, we can’t wait any longer.

More information on bills we’re introducing is available online at, along with a guide on how to participate in government.

Contact state Rep. Fukumoto Chang at 586-9460 or email