When Mazie first arrived from Japan, her mother worked in low-wage positions with little job security. Being raised by a single mother, Mazie knows from firsthand experience what it is like for a family to live paycheck to paycheck and run short of money at the end of the month. She understands the importance of economic security and a strong middle class in order to provide for shared prosperity.
Equal pay for equal work is the law, yet women are still paid less than their male counterparts for the same work. Mazie has co-sponsored the Equal Pay Act throughout her time in the Senate, which would prohibit discrimination in pay based on gender and provide legal avenues for those who have been discriminated against because of their gender.
Mazie’s own experience growing up showed her that it’s important to give workers the tools they need to care for their loved ones, from keiki to kupuna. Hawaii is among the most expensive states for childcare and long-term care. Childcare is the second biggest expense for Hawaii families after housing costs. Mazie co-sponsored the Child Care for Working Families Act to increase access to affordable, high-quality childcare for all families. She has also co-sponsored the FAMILY Act, which would allow workers to take time away from work to recover from an illness or to care for family members without risking their jobs or financial security.
Economic security also extends to making sure that all workers have the resources they need for retirement. Long-term care costs are another cause of stress for seniors and Hawaii families, and Mazie knows that providing economic security for our kupuna means we must protect and strengthen Social Security, Medicare, and Medicaid. That is why she has also introduced legislation that would provide states with resources to plan for and provide long-term care services in innovative ways that meet the unique needs of local communities. One of the best ways to care for seniors is to allow them to age in place, but in order for this to happen we must come up with new and innovative ways to provide the services and care they need.
Mazie also recognizes that we need to build a future where more opportunities and good-paying jobs are created in Hawaii, and that local people have the skills needed to get those jobs. To do that, she has been a strong advocate for investing in community development to create jobs, supporting small businesses, and expanding educational opportunities. She has been a dedicated advocate for improving the quality of our public schools, from Pre-K to college, and for federal resources to promote technical and vocational training programs at community colleges.
In addition to ensuring the education and training Hawaii families need to get ahead in today’s economy, Mazie knows that the federal government can and should assist in job creation through infrastructure investment. For every $1 billion in federal money invested in highway and transit projects, approximately 13,000 jobs are created or supported. She’s worked to support rural development projects and U.S. Department of Transportation’s TIGER grant program (initiated by President Obama) to support shovel-ready projects in Hawaii that help create jobs for Hawaii’s workers. She also supported the creation of the National Housing Trust Fund to provide states with dedicated resources for affordable housing development, and has fought against the Trump administration’s efforts to gut needed investments in federal community development and affordable housing programs like the successful HOME Investment Partnerships, Community Development Block Grant (CDBG), and resources for addressing homelessness.
Small businesses are also vital to Hawaii’s economy. As a member of the Senate Committee on Small Business and Entrepreneurship, Mazie has championed initiatives to increase investment in businesses across the state in areas like clean energy, manufacturing, technology, and research and development. She supports increased funding opportunities, technical assistance, tax credits, and expanded federal contracting opportunities for small businesses, particularly those owned by women, veterans, and minorities.
Mazie believes that our tax code should support working families and small businesses, not corporations and the wealthiest Americans. She strongly opposed Donald Trump’s massive tax cut for the rich and has fought to expand the Earned Income and Child Tax Credits that help families across Hawaii, as well as other efforts that help workers and small businesses get a leg up.
While big corporations are making massive profits and getting big tax cuts, we need to ensure that workers have the right to organize. Mazie recognizes that collective bargaining by unions on behalf of their members helped create the middle class, and she opposes so-called “Right to Work” initiatives that undermine the ability of unions to make sure workers are treated fairly, She has also spoken out strongly against billionaire-funded efforts to weaken unions through the courts. In 2017, in light of attacks by the Trump administration and powerful private interests, she introduced legislation to push back against attempts to erode these same protections for federal workers.