Hawaii Governor – Regarding the Repeal of the Clean Power Plan

The Trump Administration’s irresponsible decision to repeal the Clean Power Plan will have devastating effects on our planet for generations to come.

Climate change is real. Hawaiʻi recognizes this and is seeing the impacts firsthand with rising tides, a shrinking biodiversity, massive coral bleaching and eroding coastlines. Weather is becoming more extreme, severely impacting our neighbors.

This island in the Pacific has already taken matters into its own hands by committing to the Paris Accord and hitting key milestones in its ambitious plans to power Hawai‘i on 100 percent renewable electricity by 2045. The State of Hawai‘i is already lowering emissions while growing jobs and the economy. As the federal government steps down in its leadership role for clean energy, Hawaiʻi is rising to the occasion and remains committed.

Governor David Y. Ige

Governor Ige’s Statement on Approval of TMT Permit

The Board’s decision today is the latest milestone in what has been a complex journey. I believe Hawai‘i can host a new telescope in the right way, with respect for the values, traditions and culture of the first Hawaiians, and that our island state can be Earth’s eyes into the universe to prepare for a brighter future.
— Governor David Ige

Governor Ige Announces Hawai‘i Among 14 States and Puerto Rico to be on Track to Meet Paris Climate Targets

Gov. David Ige attended Climate Week NYC 2017 this week, where he joined fellow state governors to meet with national and international government and business leaders for discussions on climate change and efforts to reduce carbon emissions.

Hawai‘i is among 14 states and Puerto Rico who are members of the U.S. Climate Alliance, a bi-partisan coalition that was formed in response to President Trump’s decision to withdraw from the Paris Agreement.

On Wednesday, the alliance released its 2017 Annual Report: Alliance States Take the Lead which finds:

  • The alliance states are collectively on track to reduce greenhouse gas emissions by 24 to 29 percent — below 2005 levels — over the next eight years (by 2025).
  • Between 2005 and 2015, alliance states reduced greenhouse gas emissions by 15 percent, compared to a 10 percent reduction by the rest of the country.
  • Between 2005 and 2015 – the combined economic output of alliance states grew by 14 percent (the rest of the country grew by 12 percent). On a per capita basis, economic output in alliance states expanded twice as fast as the rest of the country.

“I’m encouraged by our meetings with leaders here at Climate Week. Collaboration is a critical part of how we move forward as a state, a nation, and as global leaders in addressing climate issues affecting our island state and communities around the world. The U.S. Climate Alliance report shows that alliance states are setting clear targets for greenhouse gas reductions and increasing clean energy. This is mobilizing the market to innovate and create new, well-paying green jobs,” said Gov. Ige.

In addition to minimizing emissions that cause climate change, alliance states are also focusing on investing in vulnerability assessments, and planning new innovative technologies, infrastructure and nature-based solutions that can help people adapt to climate change and its impacts.

During Climate Week, Gov. Ige spoke at the opening ceremony and participated in international discussions on a sustainable ocean economy and Hawaiʻi’s 100 percent renewable energy goal. The governor also took part in discussions on how businesses are implementing their own policies on renewable energy and investing in states that are taking steps to adapt to climate change. Gov. Ige also had the opportunity to meet with the governors of Washington and California to discuss enhancing cooperation to address climate change issues.

Governor Ige Honors Hawaii State’s Top Employees

Gov. David Ige today recognized winners of the Governor’s Awards, which honors State Executive Branch employees, managers and work teams who exemplify the highest caliber of public service and dedication in serving the people of Hawai‘i. The statewide program is administered by the Department of Human Resources Development (DHRD).

Governor David Ige

“Public employees have made important contributions to our continuing efforts to improve the efficiency and quality of government services,” said Gov. Ige. “We are honored to work with such dedicated individuals, and we appreciate all they do each and every day.”

Here is a list of the awards presented:

STATE MANAGER OF THE YEAR: Mark Patterson, corrections manager, Department of Human Services

Mark is directly responsible for the effective delivery of services to youth at the Hawai‘i Youth Correctional Facility. He has worked tirelessly to create a pu‘uhonua, a place of sanctuary for healing, for Hawai‘i’s troubled youth.  Plans are underway to provide a communal space for various faith-spiritual based groups to meet and share their services with the youth and their families.

EMPLOYEE OF THE YEAR: Lowell Spencer, school custodian, Department of Education

As Head Custodian at Honowai Elementary School, Lowell has transformed  the 50-year-old campus, which now features well-manicured grounds lined with native Hawaiian plants. He has built a team of staff members who have repaired and re-purposed items in innovative ways, keeping the school’s buildings in excellent condition.

STATE TEAM OF THE YEAR: NextEra-Hawaiian Electric Merger Evaluation Team, Department of Commerce and Consumer Affairs

This dedicated 15-member team worked tirelessly to process and analyze more than a hundred thousand pages of information in their review of the proposed $4.3 billion merger between NextEra and the Hawaiian Electric Companies. In each and every instance, they upheld the division’s mission to protect and advance the interests of Hawai‘i’s regulated utility consumers.

“These exceptional state employees have selflessly given of themselves to enrich the lives of those they serve,” said Governor Ige.  “Their accomplishments perpetuate the aloha spirit and make our state a special place to live and work.”

The three winners were selected from 56 exceptional groups and individual nominees.  A volunteer Selection Committee of five prominent members of the community carefully reviewed the 56 nomination packets and rated them according to defined categories.  The committee presented their recommendations for the three awards to Governor Ige.

The five members of this year’s Selection Committee are: Paula Akana, News Anchor, KITV-4; Roy Amemiya, Jr., Managing Director, City & County of Honolulu; Christopher Conklin, Executive Director, Honolulu-Pacific Federal Executive Board; Kim Gennaula, Executive Director of Advancement, Iolani Schools; and Scott Williams, Executive Director, Lex Brodie’s Tire, Brake & Service Company.

Governor Ige to Attend National Governors Association Conference in D.C

Gov. David Ige is traveling to Washington, D.C. on Tuesday, Feb. 21 to attend the National Governors Association’s (NGA) winter meeting. The governor will join other governors from across the country to discuss a wide range of topics that are important to the future of the State of Hawai‘i. The topics include energy, early childhood education, transportation, homeland security, cybersecurity, public safety, health care reform, conservation management and species preservation.

The governor will also meet with various members of the new administration to discuss energy, transportation, defense and homeland security.

First Lady Dawn Amano-Ige is scheduled to participate in an NGA panel discussion on the evolving role of governor’s spouses in the 21st century.

The NGA is a bipartisan organization of the nation’s governors that promotes visionary state leadership, shares best practices and speaks with a collective voice on national policy.

The governor and first lady will be traveling with two staff members. The total cost of the trip is approximately $13,300.

Gov. Ige returns to Hawai‘i on Tuesday, Feb. 28.

Lt. Gov. Shan Tsutsui will serve as acting governor while Gov. Ige is out of state.

2017 Hawaii State of the State Address – FULL TEXT

Mister Speaker, President Kouchi, former governors, distinguished justices of the courts, representatives of our congressional delegation, members of the Hawaii State Legislature, elected officials, military leaders, honored guests, family and friends,

Aloha.

From Senator Kaiali’i Kahele’s Facebook page.

Last December, I had the privilege of participating in ceremonies marking the 75th anniversary of Pearl Harbor—the day when all that was personal and intimate here in the islands collided head-on with history.

In 1941, my late father was about the same age as my children are today.  He was young and just starting to plan out his life.

We know how those events dramatically changed those plans for him and his entire generation.

Life has a way of doing that, no matter how well our plans are laid out.

It made me think deeply about both where we’ve been and where we’re headed as a state.

While we cannot predict the future, it’s clear to me that we are living in very challenging and exciting times.

And we face these times standing on solid ground.

Continue reading

Hawaii Governor Calls for Reboot of School System

Gov. David Ige today promised to reshape the Department of Education to support dreams and aspirations of each student in remarks he made at the 3rd Annual Hawai‘i School Empowerment Conference at the Hawai‘i Convention Center.

The conference was sponsored by the Education Institute of Hawai‘i, a non-profit organization committed to improving public education in Hawai‘i. The annual conference aims to increase awareness and deepening understanding of the effort to improve public education through school empowerment and innovation in learning.

Here is the full text of Gov. Ige’s prepared remarks:

A Clear Path to Achieving Excellence in Hawaiʻi’s Public Schools 

Coding. Robotics. Digital media. International education exchanges. None of these programs were offered when I attended public schools in Pearl City, and it’s impossible to predict what fascinating opportunities await students in coming years.

What I can tell you is this: The success of today’s students in the future workplace and in our communities requires an absolute reboot of the rigid school system built over a century ago. Our school system is simply not relevant to today’s students.

That’s why I asked the members of the Board of Education, those I appointed and those who began serving prior to my taking office, to develop and implement a plan to transition from yesterday’s system to one that truly prepares students to think creatively and to be innovators. I asked board members to design a system that encourages teachers and principals to make meaningful decisions about curriculum and instruction, educational programs, and expenditure of schools funds.

The Board responded to my challenge. They worked with the community to develop a new strategic plan for the department. They courageously determined that transformation requires a fresh mindset, starting at the top. And they initiated a search for a new superintendent. I fully support this decision. We need a change agent who is committed to exploring unconventional options in the quest to prepare our students for the future.

I want students, parents, teachers and other educators to be assured that my goal is to reshape the department so that it supports the dreams and aspirations of each student. I believe those closest to the students understand best how their students should be educated. That is the type of system we are working together to achieve.

The community supports this goal as evidenced by the tremendous participation in last summer’s Education Summit and dozens of follow-up meetings in communities throughout the state. I am proud of the work my volunteer team, parents, teachers, business leaders and community members have done to create a Blueprint for Hawaiʻi’s education system. I asked them to think big, and they did. I can tell you, there is no shortage of innovative thinking in Hawaiʻi.

My passion for education isn’t new, and the solutions I am promoting now aren’t a surprise to anyone who has been recently engaged in the dialogue on education. I campaigned on this issue and education remains my top priority.

We don’t know what the next technological wave will bring. But we do know that Hawaiʻi’s public education system must be set up so teachers are able to exercise their professional judgement and employ tools that enable student success.

Students who design robots in elementary school will build the communities of the future. Students who experience what it’s like to be innovators and entrepreneurs in high school will drive the state’s new economy. Students who travel with their class will collaborate with their peers around the world to solve global challenges. It is our responsibility to provide them with a robust learning experience so they can achieve rewarding and successful lives.

Hawaii Governor’s Statement on Historic Pearl Harbor Visit of President Obama and Prime Minister Abe

Today we saw President Obama and Prime Minister Abe stand together at Pearl Harbor. They honored the bravery and courage demonstrated in this sacred place 75 years ago. Most importantly, they both delivered a message of tolerance, reconciliation and peace. I know the people of Hawaiʻi join me and our national leaders in committing to a continued partnership that benefits our state and both nations.

— Governor David Y. Ige

Hawaii Governor’s Statement on 2016 Elections

governor-ige-profileThe people of Hawai‘i are resilient and innovative. We have weathered the storm of the 2016 campaign and emerged stronger as we continue to embrace the values, culture and ethnic diversity that define us. We must respect the democratic process and continue setting the example by moving forward with individual and collective actions that contribute to the greater good of our children and their children, for Hawai‘i and the United States of America.

Please join me as we make this happen.

— Governor David Ige

Hawaii Governor Attending Democratic National Convention

Gov. David Ige and First Lady Dawn Amano-Ige are scheduled to  participate in the Democratic National Convention in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania next week.

Rep. Joy SanBuenventura posted this photo on Facebook with the following comment, "The DNC opening reception far from protests. before tomorrow's opening gavel...so far everybody is happy but well see what happens tomorrow. #DNC2016 #HIDEMS #joy4puna"

Rep. Joy SanBuenventura posted this photo on Facebook with the following comment, “The DNC opening reception far from protests. before tomorrow’s opening gavel…so far everybody is happy but well see what happens tomorrow. #DNC2016 #HIDEMS #joy4puna”

As governor, Ige is a superdelegate with Hawai‘i’s Democratic Party. Elected delegates and superdelegates from Hawai‘i and across the country will be attending the Democratic National Convention starting Monday, July 25 through July 28.

Gov. Ige is receiving regular updates on Tropical Storm Darby and has the flexibility to return to Hawai‘i if necessary.

He is currently scheduled to return to Hawai‘i on July 29.

No state funds are being used for this trip.

Lt. Gov. Shan Tsutsui serves as acting governor while Gov. Ige is out of state.

Hawaii Governor Ige Appoints Kaiali‘i Kahele to Late Father’s Seat in State Senate

Gov. David Ige has appointed Kaiali‘i (Kai) Kahele to his late father’s state Senate seat. Sen. Gil Kahele represented Senate district one which encompasses the greater Hilo area, when he died on Jan. 26, 2016.

Kai Kahele Profile“Kai has extensive community support and is committed to completing the work of his father. He has a broad vision for the future of this district and for all of Hawai‘i Island that will serve his constituents well,” said Gov. Ige.

“I thank the high-quality candidates who were willing to serve and the Senate district one Nominating Committee for working so quickly to get the names to me,” he said.

“My father led by example, and community service was part of my life for as long as I can remember. I am honored to carry on his legislative initiatives. In addition, I intend to focus on job creation by strengthening workforce opportunities and small business in Hilo and the state, and I will continue to be a strong advocate for Hawai‘i Community College and UH-Hilo,” Kahele said.

Kahele lives in Hilo where he is a Major in the Hawai‘i Air National Guard and a combat veteran C-17 instructor pilot. He has been honored many times for his military service. In 2005 he was awarded a National Defense Service Medal and a USAF Air Medal for combat missions flown in Afghanistan. Most recently Kahele received the Guard Officer of the Year award at Hickam Air Force Base (Feb. 2016).

He is also a pilot with Hawaiian Airlines, a UH-Hilo adjunct faculty member and the executive director of the nonprofit Pa‘a Pono Miloli‘i. In 2015, Kai was a crew member on the Polynesian Voyaging Society’s canoe Hikianalia.

Kahele is a graduate of Hilo High School and UH-Manoa where he earned a B.A. in education while playing on the UH-Manoa Men’s Volleyball team as an outside hitter. He was named Most Inspirational Player in 1997.

Kahele will take office once the state senate qualifies him and administers the oath of office.

Full Text – Hawaii State of the State By Governor Ige

Gov. David Ige today delivered his second State of the State address. The governor outlined his plans for a renaissance for Kalihi, including the future of the O‘ahu Community Correctional Center, air conditioning for Hawai‘i’s public schools, affordable housing which is key to addressing homelessness across the state and proposed investments in public housing, the Hawai‘i State Hospital, agriculture and the environment and innovation economy.

State of the State Ige

A copy of Governor Ige’s address follows:

Speaker Souki, President Kouchi, former governors, distinguished justices of the courts, representatives of our congressional delegation, members of the Hawaii State Legislature, county mayors and other elected officials, honored guests, family and friends,

Good morning and aloha.

After Alexander & Baldwin announced the end of sugar production on Maui, I visited the people who work there.  Among them was a diesel mechanic, a fourth generation plantation worker, whose family history was interwoven with the sugar plantations.

He talked with pride about his work and life, and I shared that pride in recalling my own family’s life on the plantation.  I was also struck by the realization that his family’s future would forever be altered by the closure of sugar.

Like many of you here, I was saddened for those workers whose lives will be changed forever.  At the same time, I reflected on the challenges that we face moving forward.

Today, we live in a time of extraordinary change, where the past seems to have little relevance to what is happening today, let alone tomorrow.  And while the past doesn’t provide us with a precise roadmap to the future, it does give us the very things we need to find our path:  values, sensibilities and the ways in which we treat each other—with aloha.

Sugar is gone, as are many other aspects of the Hawaii we once knew.   In their place, however, there is an exciting new world beckoning us.  And that is what I want to talk about this morning—about this new world and the challenges we face as we govern—about doing things the right way to make things happen.

TRUTHFULNESS
It begins with being truthful.  We, in government, are obligated to be truthful, even when the truth is not easy or popular.  When we live without truth, our actions fail to pass the test of time.  Moreover, we tend to repeat our mistakes because we have not learned from them.

A few years ago, we saw the demise of the SuperFerry.  Its failure has been attributed to environmental objections and a hostile court.  But that is not exactly what happened.  The fact is the state failed to follow the law.  When we tried a legal end run, it also failed.  The point is the state should have followed the law and done the right thing in the first place.

While the circumstances are very different, we are now going through some very difficult days with the Thirty Meter Telescope.  When I visited Mauna Kea last April, I felt deeply that something was not right.

Even though I personally believe that the telescope needs to be built, it was also clear to me that many things have gone very wrong along the way.  As a result, I have taken the time to listen to a lot of people—listening to their hopes as well as their concerns.

In its recent ruling, the Supreme Court did not say don’t do this project.  What it did say was that the state didn’t do the right things in the approval process.  It told us we needed to do a better job of listening to people and giving them a real opportunity to be heard.

The unrelenting search for truth, knowledge and understanding is an essential part of our human makeup.  It helps us become who we are.

So does our obligation to be true to our past and cultural heritage.

That’s why it’s so unfortunate that our past and our future have been pitted against each other on the slopes of Mauna Kea.  As Governor, I am committed to realigning our values and our actions. They are what define us as a community and allow us to move forward – proud of our past and facing our future with strength and confidence.

I am committed to pursuing this project and I hope its sponsors will stay with us.  And this time, we will listen carefully to all, reflect seriously on what we have heard and, whatever we do in the end, we will do it the right way.

A PUBLIC TRUST
Governing the right way also means managing public funds as a public trust.  That’s especially true when it comes to taking care of our debts and obligations.

The state’s obligation to the public pension and health benefit funds represent two of our biggest fixed expenses.  We need to find better ways to meet this challenge.  Their continued growth is a challenge that will remain with us for many years.  We must find ways to do better in meeting this challenge so as not to burden future generations of taxpayers.

Last year, we changed the way in which we funded those obligations that will save hundreds of millions of dollars in the future.  In the past, the state’s contributions to the fund were made in installments that spread over 12 months.  By consolidating those contributions into a single payment at the beginning of each fiscal year, we will realize contributions or taxpayer savings of up to half a billion dollars over the next 20 years.

Furthermore, my supplemental budget request to the Legislature includes paying 100 percent of the annual required contributions rather than 60 percent for the next two fiscal years.  If authorized, this will further save more than $300 million in required contributions over the next 20 years.

Tax Modernization Program
We’ve also been working hard to implement expenditure control policies and create fiscal initiatives such as a tax modernization program.
While the history of the tax department’s computer programs is not a good one, the recent initiative to upgrade those programs is on time, on budget and meeting our first-year expectations.  It will take until 2018 to complete, but we are already seeing progress in the collection of the general excise and transient accommodation taxes.

Greater efficiencies have increased tax revenues and saved taxpayer dollars.  At the same time, our tax-fraud unit identified over $20 million in fraudulent claims in the last fiscal year and, so far this year, it has found another $11 million.  Let’s be clear. Stopping tax fraud is about fairness for all those who faithfully pay their share each year.

We know this work delays tax refunds and we are working hard to minimize those delays.  If you bear with us during this transition, we will soon have a system that will be better able to catch fraud, without the time, cost and work required to do so today.

Federal Funds
In some cases, the state has struggled to spend federal monies in a timely way.  This issue has vexed us for too long.  We are starting to make progress.  The Department of Transportation reduced its Fiscal Year 2015 project pipeline balance by over $100 million.  This is the largest drop in five years and is the lowest it has been since Fiscal Year 2002.

I am also pleased to announce that the Federal Environmental Protection Agency has determined that our State Department of Health is now in compliance in spending down the Drinking Water Fund.  As a result, the remaining balance totaling $8 million for Fiscal Year 2015 is being released for use locally.

We have more work to do on this critical issue, but we are making real progress.

Bond Financing
We also know that when public funds are managed better, the cost of borrowing money decreases.  Last November we completed a $750 million state bond sale—the first for this administration—and were able to refinance some of our bonds.  This resulted in savings of about $61 million in our debt service requirement.

Because of all these initiatives, we were able to balance the state budget by last June, even though the state was projected to close the last fiscal year in the red.

Maui Public Hospitals
While we have made progress, there continues to be areas of concern.  One of these is the operation of the hospitals on our neighbor islands and in rural communities.  It is getting harder and harder for us as a state to operate these hospitals well.

We need the resources the private sector can bring to bear on the increasingly complex issues and challenges of health care.  We recently signed a historic agreement transferring the operation and management of the Maui Region health care facilities from the state to Kaiser Permanente.  There is still work ahead but this is a great step forward.  Thanks to all of you for working with us to make this happen.

In these and many other ways, we are committed to maintaining your trust—the public’s trust—and to closely mind the state’s purse strings as we prioritize and invest in the projects and programs that are long overdue.

WORKING WITH THE COMMUNITY
When we govern in the right way, we conduct the people’s business WITH the community, not against it or around it or without it.  I’ve long had strong concerns about the way the redevelopment in Kakaako proceeded.  So do a lot of people who felt left out.

We have a great opportunity to learn from past experience and do things differently going forward.  We have an immediate opportunity to get it right in Kalihi.

One of the harshest realities facing us today is that we need to tear down the Oahu Correctional Facility in Kalihi and build a new facility in Halawa.  The jail is severely overcrowded and in disrepair and we must take action.

Therefore, I am introducing a bill to move this forward.

The facility will be designed to take advantage of all that we have learned about incarceration, and the need to give inmates a real opportunity to change their lives.  Once the correctional facility has been moved, we can take advantage of the transit-oriented development opportunities created by the rail transit system.

In the next couple of weeks, I intend to put together a group of community leaders who will convene a series of community meetings to let Kalihi speak about what Kalihi wants and what role it will play in the future of Honolulu.

The land at Dillingham and Puuhale could be used for affordable housing, open space for recreation, commercial development and the jobs that it would bring, education and many other possibilities.  And there are other state housing and mixed-use developments in various stages of planning and development in Kalihi.

In short, this is a tremendous opportunity to reposition Kalihi for the future.

This Kalihi 21st Century initiative truly gives us the opportunity to do community planning the right way.  No one deserves this more than the people of Kalihi.

This is long overdue.

GOVERNING WITH COMPASSION
Governing in the right way is about people.  That’s why we will do what needs to be done with compassion.

Homelessness in Hawaii presents a complex and difficult issue.  On one hand, we need to ensure that our parks and sidewalks remain open and safe for all to use.  But we will do this with compassion and respect, especially when families with young children are involved.  We will be sure that shelters are available for them.

We cannot force people into shelters, but we can do our best to help those families.  That’s why we increased funding for the Housing First effort and organized a Landlord Summit to encourage acceptance of more low-income and homeless tenants from building owners.

We are also currently in the final stages of renovating a 5,000-square-foot maintenance facility in Kakaako to house up to 240 people a year.  This facility will not be just another shelter.  Instead, it will be a Family Assessment Center that will quickly connect families to longer term housing.

An additional $8.3 million has been included in my budget for Fiscal Year 2017 to operate the Family Assessment Center, expand the Housing First Program on the neighbor islands, and establish a new Rapid Re-housing program throughout the state.

The ultimate goal of the state’s efforts to address homelessness is to make permanent housing available.

I am also pleased to announce that the state will be investing $5 million immediately to jumpstart a new public-private partnership with Aloha United Way.  It will provide direct funding for rapid re-housing, homeless prevention services and establish a statewide referral system. It will also develop long-term homeless strategies to address the needs of the most vulnerable individuals, including unaccompanied youth and those with chronic health concerns.

This initiative is expected to provide immediate relief to an estimated 1300 households.

My thanks to the Legislature, county mayors and the many community groups committed to helping homeless families and individuals throughout the state.

Affordable Housing
You cannot talk about homelessness without talking about the major reason why it has become so widespread.  And that is the lack of affordable housing.  It is estimated that 66,000 housing units are needed in the coming years. The state alone cannot fill the gap, but the state wants to do its part.

That’s why we are working with the private sector to develop a comprehensive approach to reduce regulatory barriers, strengthen financial tools, streamline procedures and re-orient policies toward increasing housing production.  We’ve expanded our partnerships with the private sector to build more affordable homes and rentals across the state.

Last year, the Hawaii Housing Finance and Development Corporation awarded about $10 million in low-income housing tax credit and $108 million in loans and bonds to leverage over $660 million in total development costs.

This year, because of the great demand, we are seeking $75 million for the Rental Housing Revolving Fund to make more money available for low-income rentals.

But the biggest roadblock to developing more homes is the lack of adequate infrastructure that allows housing projects to even begin.  The state can make a major contribution by funding projects such as roads and water systems.

That’s why I am proposing legislation to allow us to use the Dwelling Unit Revolving Fund for infrastructure development.  We are also asking for a $25-million increase to that fund in Fiscal Year 2017.

Public Housing
We’re also thinking outside the box in renovating the state’s public housing facilities.

The North School Street redevelopment project will be one of three Oahu public housing initiatives to enter into a public-private partnership that allows for a mixed-use/mixed income model.  Kuhio Park Terrace and Mayor Wright Homes are the other two.

These projects will redefine our concept of public housing and make it more efficient, more welcoming and more compassionate.

With the Mayor Wright Homes, we are in the process of formulating a master development agreement with Hunt Companies that has the potential of adding additional mixed-income units.  A development agreement with the Michaels Group for phase two of Kuhio Park Terrace is also imminent, with the potential for additional affordable units.

Private Sector and County Initiatives
There are other purely private sector projects in various stages of development that will contribute thousands of additional units, including Hoopili in East Kapolei and Koa Ridge in Central Oahu.  Combined, there will be over 10,000 units coming on line in the next few years.  While that is still not enough, it is a solid beginning.

We will also need innovative help from other levels of government.  I want to thank Honolulu Mayor Caldwell and the City Council for thinking out of the box to create an “accessory dwelling unit” plan to increase rentals.

Perhaps the greatest opportunities for housing on Oahu rest with transit-oriented development.  We will be working closely with you on affordable housing initiatives in this key area.  And mahalo to Mayor Carvalho of Kauai, Mayor Arakawa of Maui, Mayor Kenoi of Hawaii Island, and their respective county councils for stepping up their island-tailored efforts to house our people.

Hawaii State Hospital
Compassion must also extend to those who struggle each day with mental health issues.  Behavioral health issues are often the underlying cause of many of our social, health and economic challenges.  In fact, mental health is the single-most pressing unmet health issue facing our state.

That’s why we’re investing $160.5 million in a new forensic mental health facility on the grounds of the State Hospital in Kaneohe.  And we’ve budgeted $4.7 million in Fiscal Year 2017 to cover projected operating deficits at the State Hospital.

No one who has ever visited these facilities would ever question the need for these improvements.  We must address the severe overcrowding as well as the safety of our state employees.  We will work with you to find ways to accelerate the design and construction of this critically needed facility.

It is long overdue.

FOR THE SAKE OF THE CHILDREN
Governing in the right way also looks to the future.  For me, our highest single obligation is to take care of our children.

We need to cool our classrooms now, in energy-efficient ways that align with our commitment to end our dependence on imported fossil fuels.  Clean energy technology is changing rapidly and it’s becoming more efficient.  The Department of Education has already launched an energy-efficiency program called Ka Hei.  This is a start and we need to take it farther.

I am working with the DOE, other state departments, utilities and clean energy companies to cool 1,000 public school classrooms by the end of this year and thousands more each year through the end of 2018.

We are going to get this job done.

To start, we will use $100 million of Green Energy Market Securitization funds to immediately install energy-efficiency measures and air conditioning units in classrooms where our children need it the most.  By using existing GEMS program dollars, the Department of Education and its energy-efficiency partner, OpTerra, can quickly access affordable financing for a large portion of its cost to air condition our classrooms.

I know you share my concerns.  Let’s work together to support our kids.  You have my personal commitment that I will do all in my power to serve them.  I’ll work with anyone else who wants to do the same.

This, too, is long overdue.

LEGACY BUILDING
Finally, good governance creates a legacy—what we leave our children.

When I look at all the things we are doing right now, I see two legacy building elements in our current budget:  They are strengthening our economic foundation and encouraging innovation.

Economic Foundations
Tourism is one of our primary economic engines, generating over $14 billion each year in visitor spending and employing nearly 150,000 workers.  It’s essential for us to maintain our global position as a leader in the industry.

To do this, we need to make travel to Hawaii as easy as possible by expanding U.S. Customs pre-clearance for international visitors, particularly from Japan.  Honolulu is the fourth largest port of entry in the United States.

Through a CIP funding appropriation, we want to establish Kona as a second international airport, giving visitors more travel options and conveniences.

We are also asking for funds to modernize our airports and automate the passport control system.  This will enrich the visitor experience and encourage more carriers to fly here.

Agriculture and the Environment
In agriculture, we must move more aggressively to take on threats to our homegrown resources, with the creation of the Hawaii Invasive Species Authority.

Yes, it’s long overdue.

The authority is just part of a broader framework for sustainability in Hawaii that will connect all of our efforts in resource protection, water production and fishery restoration to support sustainable communities throughout the state.

Maui Sugar Lands
As I noted earlier, the end of sugar production in Hawaii provides us with new opportunities.  Here is the fundamental question:  In the future when we look upward to Central Maui, will we see green productive farmlands, a fallow dust bowl or more homes for the super wealthy?

We must learn from the failures of the past and vow not to repeat them.  Because we are running out of chances.

And so we will work steadfastly with Alexander & Baldwin and Mayor Arakawa to keep these lands in agriculture as a first priority.  This is a long-term top agenda item for everyone who loves what Hawaii stands for and where we came from as a people.

Our Military Family
The military is also a primary driver of our economy, and a very important one.  But that’s not how I want to focus on it today.

Many of us have friends and neighbors serving in the military here.   They are so much a part of us that we sometimes forget the risks and dangers that are a constant part of their lives.

We were tragically reminded of this when we lost twelve Marines recently.  I know we all grieve and pray with their families.  We were also reminded of the importance of what our military does in protecting democracy and peace in the Pacific and throughout the world.

And so to our military members and veterans here in the chamber today—to those who we owe so much—I’d like to ask them to stand and be recognized.

The Innovation Economy
In years past, our parents were forced to confront the reality that times were changing—that the plantations could no longer drive Hawaii’s economy, and a new economic engine had to be found.

Their answer was tourism. Today, with tourism at near capacity, we face a similar dilemma.

For those who haven’t noticed, innovation, fueled by technology, is driving the global economy at breakneck speed.  We simply must create an economic environment that enables Hawaii’s entrepreneurs to turn ideas into products and services so that we can compete in today’s global economy.

And we know that deploying a strong broadband capacity is critical to that kind of environment.

More importantly, innovation is not just a technological phenomenon.  It crosses all industries, including agriculture, fashion, “media and design,” clean energy, and healthcare.  And it creates good paying jobs that keep our best and brightest here where we need them.

For that reason, I am proposing we set aside $30 million over the next six years from our corporate tax revenues to support innovation enterprises.

We also need to support accelerator and venture fund activities to give talented entrepreneurs the means to create new products and services.  In addition, our investments will also help attract private money.

My strongest personal partner in this is University of Hawaii President David Lassner.  We are members of the Islander Wonk’s Club; there’s a sign-up sheet outside.  So it’s not too late to join!

VALUE BASED ACTIONS
Finally, making things right to make things happen is not just a nice slogan.

If we are truthful and act accordingly, if we value the public trust, if we govern with the people, if we are strong yet compassionate, if we take special care of our children, if we look to all of our futures, then we can more than meet the challenges we face today and tomorrow.

I began my remarks by talking about the end of sugar and the values handed down to us from our parents and grandparents who worked on those plantations.  I talked about the importance of transforming those values into action.

That takes leadership.  The kind of leadership and guidance provided by the late Ron Bright.

Ron was a teacher at Castle High School who transformed Hawaii, one student at a time, by engaging them in the performing arts.  He understood the importance of values.

His classroom was the theatrical stage where he directed generations of students in an imaginary world.  But the lessons they learned there were about life and the real world.  In his productions as artistic director of Castle’s Performing Arts Center, Ron celebrated our differences, reminded us of our common humanity and joyfully depicted life in all of its manifestations.

At this time, I’d like to recognize Ron’s family who is with us today.

Ron’s total commitment to the affirmation of life through education must continue to guide us.  Today, we need only watch the news on TV to see examples of man’s inhumanity to man, triggered by the fear of differences—racial, religious, national.  There are of course real dangers in the world that must be squarely met.

But it is also true that the world is becoming a smaller place where pluralism is increasingly the rule rather than the exception.  These conditions call less for fear and hostility and more for the unyielding affirmation of diversity.  We have found a way in these islands—anchored by a remarkable host culture and the enriching waves of immigration from east and west—to value and venerate who we are.

Many and yet one.

It is a lesson we have learned over time and it is an active pledge we must keep and live by every day.  The transcendent call from our island state to the surrounding world is that when we demean others we betray ourselves.

There is a finer, better way.  Pledge to it, make it real every day and lead the way.

Mahalo, and I look forward to the work ahead.