As a polar vortex pummels the northeast with arctic temperatures and endless snow, we can’t help but long for warmer climates. While most of the nation has been experiencing icy weather over the past few weeks, there remains one state where it is a tropical paradise year-round: Hawaii!
Hawaii not only has a unique climate when compared with the rest of the country, but also a unique governing structure. It is the only state to have no municipal governments below the county level; there are no towns, villages, or school districts in the State of Hawaii.
Even the City of Honolulu, home to about 375,000 and 41% of the county’s residents, does not have its own government. Rather, it is governed by the City and County of Honolulu, an entity that is coterminous with the entire island of Oahu.
In lieu of municipal services, the state has taken on some of the responsibilities that mainland cities, towns, and villages usually provide. This includes education, as the Hawaii Department of Education oversees all public and charter schools throughout the state. The state spends nearly a third of its total budget on education each year, even with spending for social services.
So while warm weather and sunnier days are still months away for many of us mainlanders, we can still yearn for the beaches of Hawaii and maybe learn a thing or two about their distinctive approach to government.