COLLABORATION, TEAMWORK RESULT IN SUCCESSFUL LEGISLATIVE SESSION
News Release from Office of the Governor, May 4, 2016
Gov. David Ige’s comments on legislative actions, as prepared:
I must first recognize the hard work of the Hawai‘i State Legislature. We appreciate its focus on setting the policy direction and making appropriations for the state. Disagreements are inevitable and healthy debate strengthens the end product.
What we saw this year was true collaboration – a true team effort. We moved forward on many long-standing issues. I am pleased that so many of our initiatives from the State of the State can now move ahead.
If I were to give grades, this session would earn a resounding B. There are still issues to look at and bills that need careful consideration. Overall – it was a solid session, but there is always room for improvement.
For the Sake of the Children: Cooling our Schools (SB3126 – Relating to Public Schools)
Cooling the schools was my highest priority and we are glad the legislators agreed. SB3126 allows for an emergency appropriation for air conditioning, heat abatement and related energy efficiency measures at public schools. I am grateful to our legislators for ensuring that the funds are available quickly, so the Department of Education can continue its work. In the end, legislators found their own way to move this long overdue project forward.
Governing with Compassion: Taking Action on Homelessness
We thank legislators for approving $12 million, more than we requested, to support the state’s effort to move homeless families and individuals into temporary and permanent housing. The funds will support coordinated strategy with concrete and measurable goals, taking a systemic and evidence-based approach to addressing homelessness.
We have identified three levers of change that will accelerate our efforts:
- Affordable Housing,
- Health and Human Services and
- Public Safety
No lever alone can resolve our current homeless crisis. We must press on all three levers simultaneously and focus attention on the root causes of homelessness in order to see measurable results.
Creating More Affordable Housing
Substantial progress was made to meet the housing needs of the average family. Legislators allocated $75 million toward this effort. They provided additional support to:
- Rental Housing Assistance Revolving Fund and
- Dwelling Unit Revolving Fund – the additional cash will finance affordable rental housing and loans for low-income housing
- HB2305 — expands the application of DURF funds to regional state infrastructure projects, which allows the Hawai‘i Housing Finance & Development Corporation to make loans to the counties and the private sector for infrastructure projects. This is a giant step forward in the development of affordable housing.
- Legislators also approved SB2833 which makes low income housing tax credits more valuable and encourages the development of low income rentals.
- SB3077 provides for the coordination of effective and efficient transit-oriented development statewide. Transit oriented development remains one of the biggest opportunities to sensibly direct growth, protect open spaces and agriculture, reinvigorate older neighborhoods and build more affordable homes.
- The State Office of Planning will take the lead in working with housing agencies to identify state lands near rail transit stations to participate in mixed-use development.
Working with the Community: Kalihi 21st Century Initiative
We are thankful to the Legislature for approving $5 million for a feasibility study and planning for a new prison facility. This is a huge step forward. The state will be engaging the community in the planning process.
Legislators also funded improvements to correctional facilities statewide.
Improving Health Care
Legislators approved $160 million for a long-overdue new facility for patient care at the Hawai‘i State Hospital. This is an investment in patients, employees and the surrounding community. They also approved $6 million for operating expenses to cover the deficit.
Also approved — $31 million in operating subsidy for Hawai‘i Health Systems Corporation hospitals statewide, including $6 million in capital improvement funds to complete Maui Region hospitals transfer.
An additional 20 positions for the Department of Health’s vector control branch, with additional funds to enhance the state’s fight against mosquito-borne diseases
Managing State Resources in Better, Smarter Ways
Governing the right way means taking care of our debts and obligations while managing effectively.
- $150 million for the Rainy Day Fund
- $81.9 million to pay down unfunded liabilities
In all, a quarter of a billion dollars is being invested in our children’s future.
Mahalo to the state’s directors and deputies who have kept the state running during this legislative session. During this time, we have accomplished some important tasks:
- We worked on transitioning the Maui Region hospitals
- Established the medical marijuana rules and made the selection of dispensary operators
- Made great strides in modernizing our tax system
- Secured the lowest rate ever on bond sales
- Repaired the Wilson Tunnel and Kamehameha Highway
- Brought the dengue fever outbreak under control
I appreciate the collaboration and hard work of the cabinet and the Legislature. We are true partners in moving Hawai‘i forward. This session:
- We took care of the children in our public schools
- We made great progress in making housing affordable
- We made major advances in healthcare programs
- We have the means to take care of those who are homeless
- We made investments for our future and are not passing our debts to our children
My administration will continue to work closely with the Legislature to execute these programs efficiently and effectively on behalf of the people of Hawai‘i.