From the governor: Charting a course for jobs, Hawai`i values

Posted on Jun 30, 2017 in Capitol Connection, Featured, Main

Governor David Ige and Hōkūleʻa navigator Nainoa Thompson at the Mālama Honua homecoming.

Jobs, climate change and standing firm on island values — now and for the future. This issue of Capitol Connection discusses the governor’s vision for Hawai‘i’s 21st century job growth, the state’s leadership in support of the Paris climate accord, Hōkūleʻa’s historic homecoming, and the issues he considers in signing bills into law.

Q. Why is innovation so important to Hawai‘i’s future job outlook?

A. Our current unemployment rate is among the lowest in the country. Up to now, Hawai‘i has been able to create jobs for our people, but as a state we have to adopt new approaches so we can compete and encourage innovation. Studies show that two-thirds of new jobs will come from the innovation sector — whether it’s new businesses, new technology or established industries finding new and better ways to help people lead productive lives. We want to help businesses create these new opportunities and make sure our residents can fill those jobs.

Q. What will it take for the state to make this new economy a reality?

HOMECOMING: Thousands gathered June 17 to celebrate Hōkūleʻa’s historic, worldwide voyage.

A. It’s about building on what is already happening here in Hawai‘i. Many of our young people go away to school, wondering if there will be careers here when they graduate. But the outlook is changing. We already have innovative companies, business startups and a venture capital infrastructure. Now we need a fuller community environment that supports innovation, small business and entrepreneurs. We’re also working with the Chamber of Commerce to  connect our residents with new job opportunities and upgrade their skills for a changing  workforce. If we can support that, then we create more business opportunities for everyone.

Q. Why was it important to sign into law the bill supporting the Paris climate agreement?

A. Climate change is real. We’ve seen that in Hawai‘i with sea level rise, coral bleaching and   a record year for hurricanes. In this environment, it’s important for states and governors to lead. Island states experience climate change more severely than other communities around the world. I think it’s unfortunate that President Trump withdrew from the Paris Accord. America needs to be a leader among countries to fight global warming. The whole message of the Hōkūleʻa was centered on the notion that we have only one planet and we need to Mālama Honua, ”Care for the Earth.”

Q. What factors do you consider before you take action on bills?

A. It’s two parallel tracks — one is technical, the other is policy. The attorney general’s  office does a legal review to see if the bill is consistent with the state constitution and if funds are appropriated properly. The second is whether the bill makes sense from a policy perspective. State agencies affected by the bill provide recommendations for whether they support it, take no position or recommend a veto. We also welcome public comments. I take all of that into consideration and ask the questions, “Is it the right thing to do, does it do it in the right way, and does it benefit the people of Hawai‘i?” to reach a decision on each bill. This year we have more than 200 bills that need signing. It’s a responsibility I take very seriously.

Read more in our July issue