Hawai‘i is once again ranked the healthiest state in the nation. Our unemployment rate is among the lowest in the country. Our visitor industry is moving toward another record-setting year, and both individual personal income and the state’s gross domestic product have been steadily growing. For four years, we have worked hard to put the state on sound financial footing by building our reserves and by paying down our unfunded liabilities, including those to our employee pension and health benefit systems. We now have the highest bond rating in the state’s history, resulting in lower interest rates when we need to borrow money. The state of the State of Hawai‘i is sound.
More importantly, we are positioned to meet the challenges—both good and bad—because we have proposed a prudent budget that does not spend all that we project to bring in. And, as Senate President Kouchi noted in his opening day remarks, we will continue with that prudent stance even as we take care of the current needs of our people. It is, as you might guess, a delicate balancing act. . . .
More than ever, we need to shape our own destiny through education and innovation. And we need to protect those things that mean the most to us—our natural resources, our way of life, our values, and our children’s future. The road ahead remains clear and so do the reasons why we need to press on with the progress we’ve made over the last four years. As a state, we have always been “outward” looking in our values, goals and actions. We have always put others first. In today’s “me-centered” world, that is what I am most proud of as governor of Hawai‘i. That is the gift that we pass on to little Alekah Garcia—that compassionate spirit that I believe resides in all of us: the spirit of aloha!