HONOLULU, Hawaii (HawaiiNewsNow) - The governor began his State of the State address on Tuesday morning with a moment of silence to honor two officers killed in a violent rampage in Diamond Head.
“Chief Ballard, please know that our thoughts and prayers are with the HPD ʻohana and with the families of these two brave officers,” Gov. David Ige said.
The speech got underway at 10 a.m., and Ige spent much of his address elaborating on a legislative package aimed at easing the cost of living in the islands.
The governor is proposing to:
- Boost the minimum wage to $13 by 2024;
- Significantly expand state-funded preschool over the next decade;
- Build 17,000 affordable homes by 2030;
- And invest $200 million on infrastructure improvements.
“House and Senate leadership, community leaders and my administration got together to look for a better way of helping working families. We challenged each other to identify ways to take on reducing the cost of living for working families,” he said.
“We committed to a package of bills that was outlined last week in our joint press conference. We committed to shaping these bills and ushering them through the legislative process. And we made a promise to make life better for our working families.”
Ige also pledged to put Hawaii on a path to offer universal preschool by the end of the decade.
“We are committed to go the distance because we know our children’s future is at risk,” he said.
“Education is the foundation of our economy and our quality of life. Everything, including our future, begins with how well we educate our children. And that is significantly affected by the kind of beginnings we provide for them. We cannot let them down.”
Near the end of his speech, the governor also touched on the Thirty Meter Telescope conflict. He said he remains confident a resolution is possible “if we put our heads and our hearts together.”
“There are some who have encouraged me to take strong measures against those who are protesting on Mauna Kea. That would have been the easier course. But it is not just the authority of the law that is at stake. It is much more than that,” he said.
“What is also at risk is the glue that has always bound us together: our sense of aloha. It is the thing that underpins our laws and gives them meaning and an ethical foundation. That trust in each other is also sacred. And I will not break that bond, no matter how convenient or easy.”
It’s the governor’s sixth State of the State and it comes amid growing concern about Hawaii’s lack of affordable housing, soaring cost of living, and sluggish economy.
Colin Moore, HNN political analyst, said Ige’s speech outlines a not-very-ambitious suite of proposals on issues that residents have been dealing with for years.
“After six years in his term we are still more or less talking about the same issues we have been talking about for years,” he said.
“I think the public could reasonably ask why are we still talking about exactly the same stuff? Why are we laying out another proposal to have something implemented 10 years from now for pre-K when many states on the mainland have had this for decades?”
In last year’s address, Ige outlined an ambitious agenda for dramatically expanding universal preschool, boosting the inventory of affordable housing and increasing the minimum wage to $15 hour.
By the end of the legislative session, he could claim little success.
And so this year, he’s sought to instead partner with legislators at the outset on several key proposals that reflect an interest in making compromises to get things done.
In addition to an increase to the minimum wage, the joint package includes proposed tax credits for working families and incentives aimed at encouraging developers to build affordable housing.
This story will be updated.