From the governor: Making history for Hawai‘i’s futurePosted on Jul 25, 2022 in Capitol Connection, Featured, Main
With the stroke of a pen, Governor Ige has signed bills into law that are destined to change the lives of thousands of Hawai‘i residents for the better. From housing, health care and education to digital equity and women’s criminal justice reform, the new laws will bring changes that have been called “historic,” thanks to the efforts of many people. This issue of Capitol Connection recaps some of what lies ahead and how these actions are key to advancing the governor’s vision for Hawai‘i.
Q: What do you want people to know about making indoor masking optional in the public schools, even with the new COVID-19 variants?
A: The new guidance reflects where we are with the virus as a community and knowing what actions we can take individually. Schools will be developing more specific guidelines, depending on what makes sense to protect students, teachers and staff. But we continue to urge people to get vaccinated and boosted as the best way to keep everyone safe.
Q: What more can the state and the Department of Health do to make sure Red Hill repairs and defueling can proceed safely and quickly?
A: DOH can’t accelerate the work to be done until we fully understand what the risks will be. The department is insisting on more specific plans from the Navy to see what repairs are the highest priority and need to be done as soon as possible. New military officers have rotated in, and staff working there know less and less about this complex system. The U.S. Pacific Fleet’s own investigations have revealed “cascading failures” that were preventable, so the Navy has to do much more to earn back the trust of the community.
Q: Several of the legislative bills you’ve signed have been called “historic.” How do they advance your own vision for Hawai‘i?
A: The funding in the bills reflects the state’s strong financial position, even with the hits we took during the pandemic. I just received the state’s revenue report, and it’s up 30% from last year. I can’t ever recall a time when there was such a dramatic increase in a single year. The increased revenue is making possible historic investments in the environment, affordable housing, Hawaiian Home Lands, medical care, education, and broadband access. COVID-19 actually spurred the digital transformation of state systems and modernization of the economy I wanted to achieve. Now we’re seeing how important broadband and internet skills are for everyone, along with the promise of tech careers for our homegrown talent. All of this is going to benefit the people of Hawai‘i for generations to come.
Q: As you look back on your time in office, what has been the best part of being governor? The worst part?
A: The best part is being able to help people in some way. The worst part is knowing that sometimes decisions aren’t going to be popular, so you just have to live with that fact. Being able to make tough decisions — even if it means being criticized — is very important. I’ve always believed that it’s about doing the right thing for the community as a whole, not just the popular thing.
Q: Are we better off than we were eight years ago — even with the pandemic?
A: I do believe we’re significantly better off, which is a tribute to our community’s ability to work together. Hawai‘i has become a world leader in fighting climate change, and we’re reaching the point where clean energy sources are going to save people money. We’ve delivered thousands of affordable rental units for local residents, and there are more in the pipeline. We’re making a historic investment for Hawaiian Home Lands beneficiaries and also restored water rights for kalo and traditional practices. We’re finding ways to fill gaps in our healthcare system. We’ve launched programs to create new careers for local residents. And now we have the funds to expand public pre-K. We know that students who have access to preschool do much better than those who don’t. And that will make a huge difference for their future and our communities.
What’s Governor Ige’s favorite snack? Favorite music? What does he watch on Netflix? You can see him respond to some fun questions on Instagram Reels. Also on Instagram, take a look behind the scenes as cameras recorded “A Day in the Life of the Governor.”