• Tuesday, September 18, 2018
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Ige promises fixes, improvements in state address

  • CRAIG T. KOJIMA / CKOJIMA@STARADVERTISER.COM

    Governor David Ige delivered his State of State address this morning at the state Capitol.

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Gov. David Ige vowed in his second State-of the-State speech to install fixes that will cool 1,000 public school classrooms by the end of the year, and to launch an initiative to develop water, sewer and other infrastructure to make it easier to for companies to develop affordable housing.

Ige pledged to tap $100 million from the Green Energy Market Securitization program, or GEMS, to help the state Department of Education to install air conditioners and other cooling equipment in classrooms across the state.

“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,” Ige said. “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.”

The GEMS program has been billed as a way to make clean energy improvements more affordable and accessible for Hawaii consumers by financing solar photovoltaic systems and other clean energy improvements for people who can’t afford them on their own.

The program has been criticized because it has cost taxpayers more than $100,000 in start-up costs, but has not actually resulted in installation of any solar equipment yet. Administration officials told lawmakers earlier this year they sold $145 million in bonds so far to launch the program, and that borrowed money was to be made available for clean energy projects.

Ige also highlighted two of his major proposed capital projects: investing $160.5 million to revamp the State Hospital in Kaneohe, which serves the mentally ill, and moving the Oahu Correctional Facility in Kalihi to Halawa.

He said that moving the jail will address the facility’s perpetual overcrowding problem and help make way for the redevelopment of Kalihi.

With intense media attention on Hawaii’s growing homeless problem, Ige also laid out his strategies for creating temporary shelter space and long-term affordable housing solutions.

The Ige administration is finishing up renovations on a 5,000 square-foot warehouse space in Kakaako, which is expected to house up to 240 people a year. Ige pitched the space as not “just another shelter,” but a Family Assessment Center designed to connect families to more permanent housing.

Ige announced that the state will also be immediately investing $5 million in a public-private partnership with Aloha United Way that will provide direct funding for rapid re-housing, homeless prevention services and the establishment of a statewide referral system.

The program is expected to provide immediate relief to an estimated 1,300 households, said Ige.

The governor also focused on the need to create affordable housing, noting estimates that the state will need 66,000 housing units in the coming years.

“You cannot talk about homelessness without talking about the the major reason why (homelessness) has become so widespread,” said Ige. “And that is the lack of affordable housing.”

Ige is proposing legislation that will allow the state to use the Dwelling Unit Revolving Fund, a state housing fund, to finance new roads, water systems and other infrastructure that has hamstrung the construction of new housing. He’s seeking to increase the fund by $25 million for the 2017 fiscal year.

The governor is also looking to diversify some of Oahu’s major public housing developments, including the North School Street redevelopment project, Kuhio Park Terrace and Mayor Wright Homes. Through public-private partnerships, the state is seeking to shift the public housing model to include mixed-use and mixed income levels.

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

Ige also announced the creation of a Hawaii Invasive Species Authority to combat the continued spread of destructive invasive species into the islands, but provided no details in his speech.

As expected, Ige repeated his plans to pump more money into the state’s effort to prefund retirement medical costs for public workers. When Ige announced his draft budget late last year, he proposed setting aside an extra $164 million for that effort for the year that begins July 1.

That would be in addition to existing requirements mandating that the state set aside $245.8 million to prefund health coverage to public worker retirees and some of their spouses, and another $360 million to pay the current premiums of public workers and retirees.

Governor David Ige’s State of the State Address 2016

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  • very ambitious plans… But there was no conviction in his voice.. How we supposed to believe him if he doesn’t even believe himself? And the house speaker ..doing the introductions… Wow… Just wow

  • The Governor says we can’t continue to rely so heavily on tourism for job and income growth. He says that innovation fueled by technology is driving the global economy and we need to promote innovation and technology in Hawaii. He points at UH president David Lassner as his partner in the “Island Techie Club”. And yet he has done nothing substantive to reverse the systematic de-funding of the university by the State of Hawaii. If innovation and technology and education are priorities then more of the $800 million dollar surplus the Legislature is sitting on needs to be directed to UH. As recently as 2010 the Legislature was allocating 8-9% of annual General Funds appropriations to the UH system but that figure is now down to just over 6%. In dollars that’s a difference of over $100 million annually. Other states and cities around the country are investing in higher education as an engine of economic growth; we need to stop talking about it and start doing it. As for those who complain that UH wastes money, the answer is better and more effective oversight, not starving our most important potential source of economic diversification of funding.

    • There is no point in investing in higher education in Hawaii because there are no higher education jobs in Hawaii. Why should tax payers here train people to fill jobs elsewhere? That is stupid!
      The culinary school makes sense. Nursing makes sense. IT and computer sciences don’t make sense. Construction management might make sense – they could repair the disasters at UH that our tax dollars paid to create.

      • There are many higher ed jobs in Hawaii. Some of these institutions are the largest employers in their community. What we need is targeted searches that include Hawaii candidates more so than exclude.

    • emphasizing educations is worthy but that is putting the cart before the horse. what we need are jobs, good jobs. graduating college graduates without sufficient jobs will not help the economy, many of them will leave the state to finds jobs elsewhere. hence, to have economic growth and/or sustainability, new industries must be created to provide jobs – this is the biggest problem. secondly, we don’t have capital to create large industries and our location and size are a disadvantage. in order to have jobs we have to be able to export products and services. in many areas we are an importer and this is bad. the only area that we can grow is diversification in tourism, selling our beaches and beauty is not enough, we need attractions Disneyland type, gambling, etc.

      • Respectfully, tourism is our #1 industry. Always has been and always should be on this island paradise. It’s great that we educate our keiki to find better jobs elsewhere. We do not need to create new industries on an island that would ruin the beauty and attraction of a paradise. If you feel that commercializing the island with gambling and a Disneyworld would benefit the economy I think many would agree as well as disagree. But progress can only go so far on a tiny island. The evils of overpopulation and an over inflated economy are already upon us.

    • How will investing in UH provide economic diversification? Will it result in more jobs in Hawaii and for our college graduates? What would be the return on this investment by the State? How many jobs? How many will be able to find work in state as opposed to leaving? What’s the current job placement rate for UH graduates? There are no jobs. My generation valued higher education yet I’m starting to look at it differently now. So many graduates work in areas outside of their field, or go out of state. No job and in debt from student loans, is this something to look forward to? Diverse and not be dependent on tourism, and mentioning about technology? Ariyoshi said that decades ago. Lingle didn’t do anything. No, I don’t think UH will ever be the economic engine that will drive economic growth. We need leadership that can think on their feet and act. And don’t point fingers or give excuses due to party affiliation.

    • Using the money from GEMS to provide air conditioning has nothing to do with promoting Green Energy. This is out and out malfeasance. But then remember when the State made Hurricane Insurance mandatory for homeowners and then raided the fund for projects that were totally unrelated? Thieves!

  • I disagree with the funding of UH; until the UH leadership demonstrates the capability of spending the money wisely, we should not give them more. Otherwise, it becomes throwing funds into a big black hole.

    • If you knew you were going to war would you refuse to spend money on your army and navy until they demonstrated the capability to spend it more wisely? Economic competition in the global information age is real, it’s cutthroat, and Hawaii is falling further behind every day which puts the future of our children at risk. UH is our single most important asset for driving local innovation and economic diversification. By all means, audit the heck out the university, expose its weaknesses, and force it to fire incompetent administrators. But don’t starve it of resources it needs just to maintain the campus and pay market-rate salaries to qualified faculty.

      • The future of our children are already at risk, throwing more money at a failing system isn’t going to make it better. If we give our children the basics in HS and vocational schools. Then we won’t need UH liberal indoctrination.

    • The people of Hawaii should share the blame for UH. Everybody expects to have a great football team, as if football were really important to the future of mankind (quick — name an artist, scientist, and athlete from 500 years ago who made an impact on the world today — I’ll bet you can name 2 out of the 3). Sports costs money. And people want to cater to ancient superstitions ahead of scientific discovery, yet they wonder why Hawaii can’t break through into high tech. And they want the UH to have all employees unionized, and even push to have graduate students unionized, and they wonder why UH costs so much and can’t seem to get rid of incompetent employees. This is Hawaii, folks. Yes, UH sucks — but look in the mirror for the cause. UH is just a reflection of the rest of Hawaii government.

  • ..” fixes, improvements in state address”… Meaning? Redacted? Better Speech-Writers? More Phantasmagorical Speeches? More Theatrically-Entertaining? Ige is going to add a “Soft-Shoe Routine” to his future speeches? Jodi Leong will play backup violin during his future speeches?

    • I like the one about public and private partnership with Aloha United Way. lol The biggest pass-through ever. How about the Family Assessment Center. It a shelter. I can see the staff there that the people have been assessed homeless. lol Sounded like a very boring State of the State. Just watch nothing significant will happen. Business as usual and life goes on.

  • Affordable housing is not one of the major reasons of homelessness. It’s more drugs, mental illness and just plain laziness. Promises promises all shibai on his part.

    • Homeless are coming here from the Mainland and Micronesia with the specific intent to freeload off Hawaii’s taxpayers and not work. Ige and the rest of Hawaii’s politicians will never solve the problem because they refuse to acknowledge that. For people who don’t work, ANY housing except absolutely free ones are unaffordable. So the State doesn’t need to build “affordable” housing, it needs to build FREE housing for anyone who wants it, and continue to build more and more and more and more and more and more and more and more and more and more and more free housing every year, until every person who wants to live for free in Hawaii has a free home. I feel sorry for future generations.

    • You should stop relying on gum labels and discarded wrappers for your reading materials. If you have fewer housing units than you have people, you will have homeless people. The homeless people will likely be the least competitive, which equals the ones with the least resources (drugs, ill, etc.) But, no, the trees moving don’t make the wind blow. Hawaii government and unions and the public that fights all zoning changes, ensure that housing costs will remain high.

  • Nowhere does Ige mention the real 800 pound gorilla in the room. That would be the woefully ineffective state bureaucracy that can’t process telescope permits properly, can’t spend federal money fast enough to keep from losing it, can’t deal effectively with an epidemic on the Big Island, and can’t be bothered to check out a DLNR enforcement hire’s record of being fired and not recommended. So, yeah, give us all your pie in the sky projects, but don’t bother trying to give us a state government that actually works.

  • Got to agree with us not relying exclusively on tourism and also the military. Another defense cutback hurts here. What I would have liked him to address is the huge multi levels of bureaucracy and combine some of the State and City functions. Whenever there is a complaint in the SA the State–or City department gives the excuse of lack of funding. Look at the article about hiring–what was it?? 20 landscapers to use weed eaters where a darn lawnmower–which they don’t have would have done the trick. This isn’t the WPA!!!!!!! Why have a State AND City park department??? We need a business approach and cost cutting here!!!

  • “…moving the jail will address the facility’s perpetual overcrowding problem and help make way for the redevelopment of Kalihi.” Why don’t we conveniently not mention ‘rail’ as the real reason. Looks like Ige doesn’t want to be linked to the rail farce.

    • How about getting off of those antibiotics? How about increasing your exemptions so that you will not end up giving the government a free loan for a year?

  • Sounds like he’s playing “catch-up.” This is what’s been disappointing to me about this Guv. No vision, no plan; just reacting to whatever issue comes up. For the amount of time he’s been in office, this does not look good for our future.

  • There are many good people who work for the UH. Including many of the overpaid ones. Good people. Just grossly overpaid and underperforming. The problem (and blessing) in the public sector of Hawaii is that we value “good people” over everything. Meaning — so long as you are good (real or perceived) and you do a good job of PLAYING BALL — i.e – don’t rock the boat — then you will be rewarded… eventually. Even if you are not very effective, because God forbid if the job falls into the hands of some “outsider.” Outsiders change things. Hawaii state government people don’t like change. It pays to play ball. Sad but true. This is the UH, where one could rise from lecturer…to faculty…to tenured faculty….to faculty leader…..to dean……to VP….to…….$$$$. Play ball long enough and you will make plenty $$$$$$$ in the UH system. No one will be able to ever clean this up. The layers of politics, tenure, unions, votes and big money are too heavy to comprehend. It certainly lays support to the notion that the UH is not here for students, families and communities mission statements are crafted around. But rather, the UH is a job source for state employees. A money pit of sorts, where political ball is played daily and the wheels on the bus go round and round. Go Bows!

  • As a career bureaucrat, Gov. David Ige thinks he can just install school aircon and the problem will go away. What a babooze. Here is what he hasn’t got a clue about:

    1. School classrooms with jalousie windows will just bleed hot air in, cool air out. All windows will have to be replaced with energy efficient double pane windows. Same for any doors not fully sealing when closed.

    2. School electrical systems will have to be upgraded to support the new aircon. We are talking about rewiring the entire school to bring it up to the current code.

    3. Our Jurassic classrooms will need to be insulated to keep the outside heat from radiating in where the sun beats on the walls, attics will need thick insulation.

    4. Classroom roofs will have to be inspected and all repairs made if PV panels are installed. In some cases this could mean replacing entire roofs.

    5. Maintenance contracts must be set up to ensure the aircon is inspected and maintained to the manufacturer’s specifications. Sad to say this is one area where the Nei never meets the standards. This means within a few years of installation the aircon units could be down for lack of maintenance and repair parts.

    Ige needs to step back on his school aircon plan. Each school to have aircon installed should be fully inspected and surveyed by professionals (not state workers) to get an accurate estimate of the total cost. Willing to bet Ige’s 100 million will just be chump change compared to the cost of aircon for all the island’s schools.

    And unless his plan is to power them all with PV, who is paying the power bill? Bureaucrats. Dime a dozen.

  • It’s clear who Ige’s priority is – the public worker unions, in particular HSTA. He’s willing to impose new taxes on ratepayers to cool classrooms. But hey, it’s for the keiki and HSTA right? He wants 700 million just for public worker and retiree healthcare? How long can Hawaii taxpayers afford to pay that? The lifetime health insurance for retirees/families has to come to an end at some point, it’s unsustainable. The democrats under union control are going to slowly but surely bankrupt this state with billions in unfunded liabilities and entitlements for public workers. Soon they’ll be calling for a dedicated 0.5% increase in the GE tax for HSTA. Ige will save that one for his next term if he has one.

    • I miss when the public library had no air conditioning. Us kids used to toss the books out the window, and retrieve it later on in the day in the bushes below the window. Now it’s all sealed up with air conditioning.

  • He’s just like all the democratic governors. Just looking for ways to spend money. Didn’t hear anything about cutting back or saving the State money. Just spend, spend, spend. Get rid of the fat in certain departments…especially the DOE, starting with Matayoshi who has not improved educating the children. Just like Ige…just carry on the tradition of spending money.

    • Ok, so if you got rid of Matayoshi, then wouldn’t you still have to replace her with someone else? You still need a top official don’t you? I’m not commenting on her record, but the fact is you cannot say just cut, cut, when there are positions which need to be filled.

  • The DOE received 75 million for RACE TO THE FLOP. WHERE DID THE MONIES GO????? According to family members and friends whom are educators say that the monies never filtered down to the schools. AUDIT….AUDIT….AUDIT….AUDIT….WHAT LEGISLATOR WILL STEP UP TO THE PLATE AND REQUEST ONE????? ANY TAKERS????

  • “You cannot talk about homelessness without talking about the the major reason why (homelessness) has become so widespread,” said Ige. “And that is the lack of affordable housing.” Ok David, you better be talking about public housing and not catering to your special interest housing developer partners. I can’t see what the lack of $750,000.00 homes has to do with being homelessness. The homeless are homeless because they can’t even pay rent. No job, no good paying job, unwilling to work or find a job, no income, no sugar daddy/mama = homelessness.

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