From the Governor: Protecting what’s special about Hawai’i

Posted on Mar 29, 2017 in Capitol Connection, Featured

Gov. Ige in a Congressional briefing for the governors.

Our Hawai‘i — like nowhere else on Earth. We say it and live it every day. We’re the most diverse, the healthiest state, but we still have a host of challenges. This issue of Capitol Connection focuses on Gov. David Ige’s Sustainable Hawai‘i Initiative and the progress we’re making, the National Governors Association conference in Washington, D.C. and talks with the Trump administration.

Q. What was your approach in meetings with the Trump administration — especially on health care and sustainability?

A. My job is to represent Hawai‘i’s interests, to reach out to anyone who might help the state and to put politics aside. I explained to some Trump cabinet members why Hawai‘i is unique and needs to have a different relationship or interaction with the agency than they might otherwise have. As for President Trump, what you see on TV is what you get. He did express interest in working with the governors.

Q. Are you concerned about the future of the Affordable Care Act for Hawai‘i?

A. Our commitment is to assure that all who get coverage today can continue to get coverage. Hawai‘i has a long history of providing medical care through the state’s 1974 Prepaid Health Care Act, under which 90 percent of the population has health insurance. I believe Hawai‘i will be affected less severely than some states by any changes. Our perspective is how do we take the best of both worlds, to preserve what has helped the people of Hawai‘i for so long.

Q. Do you think there will be repercussions for Hawai‘i because of the lawsuit filed by the state over the latest travel ban?

A. The state’s position is that discrimination based on religion or national origin is flat-out wrong, especially if you look at the history of Hawai‘i. As attorney general Doug Chin has said, the nation needed to hear from a state where diversity is the norm.

Q. What do you think about possible policy changes at the Environmental Protection Agency?

A. Although we’re hearing lots of pronouncements by different people about policy changes, I do think the reality of governing, the reality of repealing regulations will slow the impact to our state. What counts is what is appropriated by Congress in the budget. The reality is Hawai‘i still needs to interact with the EPA. When I met with EPA Administrator Scott Pruitt, I made the case that, as an island state, we are unique in our isolation and our commitment to 100 percent renewable energy for our electricity by 2045. We need flexibility to focus on the long-term. He said he understood that, in terms of energy  needs and other areas, Hawai‘i was different. I was also glad he said he’s been to the islands several times and recognized the state’s natural beauty. Our state has a great opportunity to help people see that sustainability just makes sense for Hawai‘i and the world. (For details on the Sustainable Hawai‘i Initiative, go to https://governor.hawaii.gov/sustainable-hawaii-initiative/)

 

Read more in our April issue