HONOLULU (HawaiiNewsNow) - Gov. David Ige says he'd give state lawmakers a "B" for their efforts this legislative session.
In a news conference Wednesday, a day before the session comes to a close, the former state Senate Ways and Means chairman described what he considered this year's legislative successes and missed opportunities.
A big win: Pledging $100 million to cool Hawaii's public school classrooms, an initiative he called "his highest priority."
This year, lawmakers also committed $12 million to combat homelessness. That was more than Ige had asked for.
"We are focused on a systemic, evidence-based approach to solving the challenges of homelessness. As I've said many times, there are no quick fixes," he said.
"We do have a plan. We are data-focused. We will be applying across the three levers of change that are so fundamentally important -- permanent affordable housing, health and human services that support the homeless and public safety, which ensures that we have the means to keep public spaces public."
Meanwhile, the governor said he was disappointed that efforts to strengthen the state's ability to keep public spaces open to everyone failed. A bill supported by the administration would have criminalized trespassing on state land. The measure was criticized for criminalizing homelessness and targeting protesters, like those who have tried to keep TMT construction crews off Mauna Kea.
Ige argued, however, "that bill was to ensure that we can enforce the laws on all state lands, and obviously Mauna Kea is state lands -- so yes, it would allow us to enforce at Mauna Kea. It would allow us to enforce under the freeways. It would allow us to enforce on the medians."
Ige says he plans to take up the issue again next year -- and that he'll also be back to ask for the fuel tax increase.
Ultimately though, he felt lawmakers prioritized some of the biggest challenges the state is facing. "We do know that we owe it to the people of Hawaii to produce a better, more efficient and effective government," said Ige.
Ige says he still has to carefully review and vet all bills that land on his desk -- and wouldn't indicate which measures could be facing a veto.