Gov. David Ige reflects on first year in office
HONOLULU (HawaiiNewsNow) - It's been one year since Gov. David Ige took office.
"I like to think that I'm the same person, just a whole lot busier," Ige said.
Ige says he's busy trying to make government more efficient by urging state leaders to be creative and finding ways to stretch taxpayer dollars.
"A lot of it is not flashy or dramatic, but I think it changes and improves the lives of citizens each and every day," Ige said.
Among his first-year successes, Ige says prisons have reduced overtime by 16 percent, saving $1 million. The state's bond outlook is up. Ige says improving tax collection has saved $20 million this year. Eventually he says it'll bring in hundreds of millions. That will ramp up soon when the state cracks down on off-the-books vacation rentals and businesses.
"We definitely are focused on ensuring everyone pays their fair share of taxes," Ige said.
The governor says he's also restructured payments to the pension and health funds to save more than $1 billion over 20 years.
But if you think that's a lot, Ige also believes Hawaii can save $6 billion a year by generating all of our own energy. That's why he's steadfastly opposed to the HECO merger.
Even as more unions sign on, Ige doubts the Florida firm NextEra can meet his mandate of producing 100 percent renewable energy by the year 2045 -- something no utility in the world has done.
"I'm interested in getting a partner who truly is interested in 100 percent renewable, and truly committed to redefining what an electric utility should look like," Ige said. It's perhaps his boldest move yet, but Ige is deliberate.
"You know, I consider myself someone who's thoughtful, I don't make random decisions," he said. "I don't regret any decisions I made, I don't view any of them as mistakes."
He does have active Facebook and Twitter accounts, though he admits he doesn't write his own tweets. He also puts out a monthly newsletter about state affairs.
Between meetings and PR photos, Ige says he's putting in at least 12-hour work days, and he's losing the difference between weekends and weekdays.
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