From the governor: Hawai‘i’s future begins with usPosted on Aug 25, 2022 in Capitol Connection, Featured, Main
In these turbulent times, it’s easy to be cynical about the future. But many of us still say “Lucky we live Hawai‘i.” With the Ige team working to keep us safe, our biggest hopes remain with our keiki, including our Little League world champions, and our community values. This month’s newsletter focuses on advances made in education — what Governor Ige calls “the most important function of government” — and other priorities for clean energy and the environment. These hallmarks of his administration will help to define us and our state’s future for generations to come.
Q: What was your reaction to the “attack ads” against some candidates during the primary election campaign?
A: I think they were terrible. The worst part is the ads are run by super PACs who don’t care if the information is distorted and misleading. A local candidate’s campaign would be held directly accountable for what an ad says. Overall, I think integrity and trustworthiness still matter to Hawai‘i voters, but in a close race, it could make a difference if enough people believe the negative ads.
Q: What are you focusing on in these last few months of your term?
A: It’s about finishing strong and not going into autopilot. I want to make sure there’s continuity in the programs we’ve initiated. Hawai‘i has become a world leader in protecting the Earth and delivering on clean energy transformation. I also want to see the success of our affordable housing program continue. We’ve completed nearly 13,500 units during the past eight years — more than half of them affordable. As every new governor and mayor learns, building affordable housing isn’t easy. That’s why you need to develop a system that works. That’s what we’ve focused on since the start of my administration.
Q: Why have you said, “Education is the most important function of government”?
A: Because public schools are the foundation of our community — especially for those of us from immigrant backgrounds. My grandparents came to Hawai‘i with virtually nothing. My parents grew up on plantations. My father finished only the 8th grade and had limited options. My mom and dad always said education is the ticket to success and sacrificed so their six sons could go to college. That’s why I wanted to support programs like Early College and Hawai‘i Promise, to make it easier for students from all backgrounds to afford higher education and lead them to higher-paying jobs and better careers.
Q: What do you see as the biggest challenge for our public schools in this new academic year?
A: COVID-19 remains a challenge, so we need to understand how best to manage the virus on a lot of fronts. There’s new technology we’ve deployed to purify and clean air within classrooms. And we need to continue to focus on actions we can take as a community to reduce the spread of the virus. For instance, I know it’s not easy for parents to keep children home from school if they have just mild symptoms, but that one small act can save others from getting infected.
Q: What do you want people to know about the closing of the coal plant, electricity rates and the future of solar for clean energy?
A: Hawaiian Electric is forecasting an increase of about 7% or $15 for a typical residential customer’s bill on O‘ahu, but the rise will be temporary. The higher cost is tied to global oil prices being driven up after Russia invaded Ukraine, although more oil has been made available from U.S. reserves. In Hawai‘i, the Clearway solar project and others coming online are important because, overall, we’ll be reducing electricity bills for the future and fighting climate change, especially with green energy support through President Biden’s new Inflation Reduction Act.