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With 60.1% of Hawaiians with Disabilities Out of Work, Ige, Curtis and Tupola Discuss Job Prospects

Honolulu, Hawaii, Oct. 25 – With 60.1 percent of Hawaii’s 66,031 working-age people with disabilities out of work, incumbent Democratic Gov. David Ige, his Republican opponent, State Sen. Andria Tupola and Republican Senate challenger Ron Curtis each responded to a questionnaire by the disabilities advocacy group RespectAbility, outlining their views on training and hiring people with disabilities.

headshot of Gov David Ige

In his responses to 10 questions submitted by the organization, Gov. Ige noted that nationally and in Hawaii, many individuals with intellectual and developmental disabilities “have been placed in ‘prevocational’ programs and segregated workshops where they are paid sub-minimum wages with little expectation of moving into integrated employment.”

“It is my commitment to change this trajectory, make sure people don’t get stuck in a pre-vocational setting, and stop the use of segregated work programs,” Ige declared.

Andria Tupola headshot

Ige’s opponent, Hawaii State House Minority Leader Andria Tupola (R-43rd District), charged that “our current administration has failed” to “adequately seek out federal funds for SPED (Special Education) students.”

“The U.S. government reimbursed Hawaii $259,946 for school-based Medicaid health services in 2016, the latest date for which data is available. With 21,000 SPED students, that’s $12.38 per student per year. That’s absolutely unacceptable, not just morally, but mathematically.”

headshot of Ron Curtis

Calling the RespectAbility questionnaire “quite detailed, comprehensive and truly focused on advocating for disabilities,” Republican Senate candidate Ron Curtis declined to respond specifically to the ten questions posed by the group but responded with a statement.

“To properly address your questionnaire, I would bring in knowledgeable people such as yourself and members of your organization to collaborate and advise on the best paths forward,” Curtis said. “If elected, I would do just that to address the concerns your organization has raised.”

“Our nation was founded on the principle that anyone who works hard should be able to get ahead in life,” said RespectAbility’s President, Jennifer Laszlo Mizrahi. “People with disabilities deserve equal opportunity to earn an income and achieve independence just like anyone else.”

RespectAbility also reached out repeatedly to Curtis’ Democratic opponent, incumbent Sen. Mazie Hirono, but received no response to the questionnaire, according to Mizrahi.

The full text of RespectAbility’s questions and the candidates’ replies are available on The RespectAbility Report:

RespectAbility is a nonprofit, nonpartisan organization that fights stigmas and advances opportunities for people with disabilities. RespectAbility does not rate or endorse candidates. You can see more candidate responses at To learn more about the organization, visit our website at

Published in2018 Candidate QuestionnaireGovernorsSenate

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