Past Governor of Hawai‘i, asking for your support in the Mayoral election
GUIDING HAWAI‘I TO PROSPERITY
On November 8, 1994, the people of Hawai‘i elected Benjamin J. Cayetano as the state’s chief executive. After taking office, Ben Cayetano confronted the worst economic crisis in Hawai‘i history by developing a recovery plan with the help of business, labor and legislative leaders. Despite a storm of criticism from factions opposing the plan, Ben:
- Pushed through one of the biggest state personal income tax reductions in the nation at the time
- Reduced the size and growth of state government to less than the inflation rate
- Established the Hawai‘i Tourism Authority
- Implemented civil service reform
- Built a record number of public schools
- Built a record number of homes for Native Hawaiian homesteaders
- Developed the Hawai‘i Convention Center to boost tourism
- Started the Hawai‘i State Art Museum
- Began construction of the new John A. Burns School of Medicine and research center for the University of Hawai‘i
SUPPORTING PUBLIC EDUCATION
Ben kept his promise to make public education his highest priority by sparing schools from budget cuts at the expense of other state departments. He sought reform through the collective bargaining process, and in 1997 negotiated a contract that increased teacher salaries in exchange for adding seven days to the school calendar.
REFORMING THE BISHOP ESTATE
No stranger to making controversial decisions as Governor, Ben ordered the State Attorney General to investigate the Bishop Estate, an $11 billion trust fund set up for the benefit and education of Hawaiian children. Reforms resulting from the investigation included changing the manner in which the estate is managed and depoliticizing the way trustees are selected.
REGAINING ECONOMIC GROWTH AFTER 9-11 ATTACKS
When Hawaii’s economy rebounded in 1999, Ben promoted growth in new areas to further diversify the economy. Then in 2001, the 9-11 terrorist attacks derailed Hawaii’s and America’s economies. Hawai‘i recovered much faster than the rest of the nation, however, and by 2002 was one of only two states projecting economic growth. When Ben’s second term as Governor expired on December 2, 2002, Hawaii’s economy was still growing, and the unemployment rate stood at 4.2 percent – one of the lowest in the country.
CREATING NATION’S FIRST STATE-FUNDED AFTER-SCHOOL A+ PROGRAM
Before serving as Governor, Ben was elected in 1986 as Lieutenant Governor. His accomplishments in that post included reforming education, streamlining election laws and, most significant, conceiving and implementing the nation’s first state-funded after-school program in 1989. After-School Plus (A+) is an affordable child care service for as many as 29,000 public school elementary children each year. The program’s stimulating and caring environment reduces the number of latchkey children whose parents are working, attending school or engaged in job training. The UCLA Alumni Association and University of Hawai‘i College of Education honored Ben in 1993 for launching A+, which consistently receives high approval ratings from parents for quality and effectiveness.
TAKING A LEADERSHIP ROLE IN HAWAII STATE LEGISLATURE
Ben’s public service began with his election in 1974 to the Hawai‘i State Legislature. During two terms in the House of Representatives and two in the State Senate, he held several important posts – including chairman of the Senate Ways and Means and the Majority Policy committees, respectively. His well-earned reputation for independence, honesty and effectiveness prompted the Honolulu Star-Bulletin to name Ben as an outstanding legislator for four consecutive years.
RISING FROM HUMBLE ROOTS
Ben was born and raised in the blue collar community of Kalihi in Honolulu. His parents divorced when he was six and his father, Bonifacio, an immigrant from the Philippines, raised Ben and his younger brother, Kenneth. Though poor, Ben’s early childhood was a comparatively happy one. Kalihi was a tough neighborhood, however, and Ben barely managed to graduate from Farrington High School in 1958. Married at 18 and a father at 19, Ben supported his family by working as a service station attendant, laborer, truck driver, electrician apprentice and draftsman. Ben quickly realized that his lack of a college education stood in the way of better opportunities. In 1963, Ben moved to Los Angeles with his wife and two children to pursue a college degree. This marked the first time Ben had been off the island of Oahu and flown on an airplane. Because of his poor high school grades, Ben enrolled at Los Angeles Harbor College to further his education. He worked hard at this community college and in 1966 was admitted to the University of California at Los Angeles. He went on to graduate from UCLA in 1968 and from Loyola University School of Law in 1971. Recruited by a highly regarded law firm, Ben moved his family back to Hawai‘i where he was admitted to the State Bar Association and entered private practice as a trial attorney. In 1972, Ben was appointed by Governor John A. Burns to the Hawai‘i Housing Authority, the state agency responsible for developing and managing public housing for low-income people. This experience gave him an insight into the realities and potential for progress in Hawai‘i politics. Shortly thereafter, he launched his public service career.
HONORED FOR ACHIEVEMENTS IN PUBLIC OFFICE
Ben has received numerous honors and awards, including:
- The UCLA Medal, the university’s highest honor, for his “remarkable record of public service”
- Distinguished Leadership Award from UCLA’s John E. Anderson Graduate School of Management
- Award for Ethics in Government from the Hawaii Chapter of the American Society of Public Administration
- Award for leadership and contributions to government from the Harvard University Foundation for Intercultural and Race Relations
- Honorary doctorate of law from the University of the Philippines
- Honorary doctorate of public service from Loyola Marymount University
- UCLA Edward A. Dickson Alumnus of the Year Award for lifetime achievement
In 2002, President Gloria Macapagal-Arroyo of the Philippines conferred upon Ben the Philippine Legion of Honor, the nation’s highest honor for distinguished achievements by a civilian.