Ige says slowing economy will force budget adjustments
February 25, 2018 | 79° | Check Traffic

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Ige says slowing economy will force budget adjustments

  • CRAIG T. KOJIMA / CKOJIMA@STARADVERTISER.COM

    Gov. David Ige spoke at the annual State of State address. Senate President Ron Kouchi, left, and House Speaker, Joe Souki sat behind him.

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Gov. David Ige touted his achievements during his first two years as governor in his State-of-the-State speech to lawmakers today, but warned the state economy has slowed, and “adjustments” will be required in his proposed two-year $28.5 billion budget.

Ige noted that tax collections were expected to grow by 5.5 percent this fiscal year, but actual tax revenue has grown by just six-tenths of 1 percent in the first six months of the year.

“The economic assumptions on which the budget was based have changed, and we will have to make adjustments,” Ige said.

Ige did not specifically describe those adjustments, but said he will propose an increase in state payments into the public employees pension fund. The Employees Retirement System, which provides benefits to more than 120,000 employees and retirees, earlier this month announced that its unfunded pension liability for state and county employees and retirees was a whopping $3.67 billion more than had been previously calculated.

To help cope with that extra cost, Ige said he will phase in a series of increased payments “to ensure that we keep our promises to our retirees in a responsible way.”

Ige said he intends to expand the Early College Program that helps high school students to obtain college credits, saying that “studies show that this may be one of the most powerful tools to advance college enrollment and success among our public high school graduates — especially for lower-income and first-generation college students,” Ige said.

Ige also said he will purchase more electric cars for the state using money from up to $10 million in payments to the state under a legal settlement with Volkswagen for alleged emissions fraud.

Ige did not specifically mention his plans to increase the state’s gasoline tax, weight tax and registration fees, but said he wants to work with lawmakers to “find the funding to make significant upgrades to increase safety and reliability” in the state’s highway network.

Lawmakers last year rejected Ige’s plan to increase those taxes to fund highway improvements, but Ige promised to re-introduce those tax increase proposals again this year.

The city plans to ask lawmakers this year to extend the half-percent excise tax surcharge for Oahu to provide more money for the city’s rail project, and Ige said he plans to work with the city and the Legislature to find enough money to complete the rail system.

“This will give us a more comprehensive approach to traffic congestion on Oahu for the long term,” he said.

Ige’s speech mostly steered clear of dramatic new initiatives such as “Cool the Schools,” which he unveiled in his speech last year. That plan to install air conditioning or other equipment to cool 1,000 classrooms by the end of last 2016 turned out to be a disappointment for the administration.

Ige convinced lawmakers last year to appropriate $100 million for the plan, but unexpectedly costly bids by contractors contributed to delays, and shortly before New Years Day Ige reported that work had been completed in only 164 classrooms with bids have been awarded for another 207.

However, Ige said his new budget includes $61.7 million to continue the “Cool the Schools” effort, adding that “we haven’t lowered our sights.”

Ige also said he will propose a new “invasive species authority” to oversee efforts to protect the Hawaii environment from invasive species, but provided few details. He said his budget includes $18.4 million to protect watersheds, forests and oceans from invasive species.

Ige said his administration helped to reduce homelessness in Kakaako by two-thirds, and said his new budget proposes to spend $20.9 million per year for rent subsidies, supportive services, outreach services and enforcement to cope with homelessness.

State funding for homeless prevention allowed 4,200 to stay in their homes and avoid homelessness, and helped to spur a 25 percent reduction in evictions, Ige said.

Ige also praised his administration’s efforts to speed renovations in public housing units so they can become available for occupancy more quickly. He said his proposed budget includes $59 million for additional public housing improvements, and said his budget proposes to invest $123.4 million in new housing starts.

Ige also pitched his administration’s efforts to steer Hawaii into the “innovation” sector.

The governor has included $5 million per year for each of the next two years to support the work of the Cancer Center of Hawaii, and praised the state’s HI Growth program to encourage high-tech entrepreneurs. He said that program has helped to fuel 145 start-ups with $10 million in state funds, and those start-ups attracted $250 million total investment.

“Together, we must pursue our own self-made opportunities through education, innovation and entrepreneurship,” Ige said. “We must tap our greatest resource, our people, to find our way to the next great economic transformation: the development of an innovation sector.”

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GOV. DAVID IGE’S STATE OF THE STATE ADDRESS

Gov. David Ige’s State of the State address by Honolulu Star-Advertiser on Scribd

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  • The education governor in action. Fire a successful Superintendent the raised test scores, increased graduation rates and number of students entering college. To top this off, instead of a raise he offers a 1% bonus for current teachers. It is no wonder why we have a teacher shortage.

        • That photo, above. Is that not a perfect example of the hillbilly-ness, that is Hawaii nei? Any global tourist, or mainlander, would take one look, and say “We’re not in Kansas anymore…”

    • Ige has lost support from the Democratic Party. He is thrashing around to stay above water. No leadership, a budget that tanked, a lost telescope that as supported by most Hawaiians and most people who live here, and a lack of compelling ideas.

      • 1% bonus in lieu of a raise! What a joke Ige has turned out to be. I’m beginning to wonder if height is a necessity for the next governor! Ige and Abercrombie were very short in stature. Bunch of Trolls!

        Sure hope the HSTA strikes later this year. $700 bonus, after taxes, $400 net! Why teach in Hawaii, you’re better off doing clerical work with no take home work, weekend planning, and dealing with the ever changing BOE mandates.

        • For a state billions in dollars in debt to a never ending pension money pit, bonus payments may be a way to slow down this sinkhole.

          If pension computation rules do not count bonus payments, and they should not, state would be better off giving yearly bonus payments equal to a pay raise. This would slow the growth of pension liabilities.

          State should be moving all new hires to the 401k plan to end this pension debacle forever.

        • EXACTLY! No sense you go to college all these years and a job you could get right out of high school (clerk) is more appealing! Thank you Teachers for all you do and put up with, and I don’t mean the kids!

        • Don’t get too worked up. The 1% bonus is political posturing so the administration can claim to have tried. Negotiations will eventually end in arbitration and, based on history, the arbitrator will award the teachers whatever they want.

        • Ahi check your facts. Teachers are not offered arbitration. They have to fight to the bitter end and strike if they have to. No one wins in strike.

  • Gov Ige doesn’t seem to be like a Socialist Liberal Democrat. This guy is a Conservative in disguise.A Budget Surplus of 1 Billion dollars? He has the traits of being a conservative .But now the Democrats are figuring how to spend that surplus and spend it faster ! Haaaaaaaaaaaaaa.

    • “​​​​For the third consecutive year, the Hawaii State Board of Education (BOE) gave Superintendent Kathryn Matayoshi an overall rating of ‘Exceeds Expectations’ in her annual job performance evaluation.

      “The Superintendent and her team sets high expectations for the Department, and has continued to collaborate with the Board, schools and community on advancing these goals,” said BOE Chairman Lance Mizumoto.

      The BOE evaluation of the superintendent is comprised of the following categories with Superintendent Matayoshi’s rating in each:

      Overall Rating: Exceeds Expectations;
      Overall Management Abilities: Exceeds Expectations; and
      Performance Objectives and Program Accomplishments: Fully Meets Expectations.
      The Board noted a number of accomplishments in Matayoshi’s evaluation, posted here​. According to the BOE, the Hawaii State Department of Education (HIDOE) continues to make progress in key systemic areas from progress on addressing the statewide achievement gap to the expansion of community engagement with a focus on career and college.

      “The Department continues to work hard in transforming public education. This rating is reassuring feedback that we are on the right track, and a reflection of the high performance and dedication of the Department’s leadership team, administrators, teachers and students,” said Matayoshi. “We will continue to strive higher and remain student-focused in our decision making and planning.”

      Additional HIDOE accomplishments over the past year include the following milestones:

      Establishment of new offices including the Office of Hawaiian Education and Community Engagement;
      Implementation of “Jacob’s Study,” a three phase project that will help HIDOE compile a comprehensive space inventory of all of its facilities;
      Expansion of the free meal and summer meals programs;
      Opening of new facilities including the Kailua High’s Natural Science Lab Building and Stevenson Middle’s Science & Technology Center;
      Reduction in open cases of Department Directed Leave (DDL) and Leave Pending Investigation (LPI);
      Securement of multiple grants including the New Skills for Youth grant awarded to 24 states to improve career preparation systems; and
      Launched efforts to review and revise the joint HIDOE/BOE Strategic Plan concurrently to the drafting of a state plan in response to the new federal law the Every Student Succeeds Act (ESSA).
      Matayoshi was named superintendent in September 2010. Prior to her appointment, she served as acting and interim superintendent (January 2010) and deputy superintendent (July 2009). ​

      Mizumoto has been BOE chairman since July 1, 2015. Four new members joined the BOE in 2016 including Patricia Bergin, Kenneth Uemura, Bruce Voss and student representative Andrea Lyn Mateo, a senior at Waipahu High School.”

      • Your entire verbose post is pure shibai.

        Until an impartial, outside, professional source vets all these supposed “Accomplishments” they are nothing but smoke and mirrors.

        If Matayoshi was a true leader, she is not, she would publicly publish her goals for the year. Then at the end she would publish the results, good and bad.

        And lets not forget, she did not personally do all this work. Just the figure head only taking credit when there is a success, staying quiet to failures.

        • THANK YOU! She needs to go! Bring in someone who will do everything the Teachers want and need! As a Superintendent you fight to give raises to all the BOE but the Principals and the Teachers that are doing the work get’s a joke of a 1% bonus that HSTA President Rosenlee broke down as a lose money option for all Teachers? Shame on them! Teacher’s will always be looked down upon in the pay scale but at least give them the respect they deserve! Sometimes, that means so much more! The kids know how to show more appreciation to the Teachers than the State does! That’s why they teach!

      • Do you work for her? How does a lawyer become an educator without actually teaching a class in the DOE or any k-12 classroom? Yeah blah, blah, blah. Taking credit off the backs of other hard working individuals. Typical department head.

  • Too bad Ige’s 19th Puka closed down a few years back! They had some great food! And Gov. Ige’s family is not associated with that Restaurant. No wonder was so ono!

  • On the cool the schools, installing the AC is the cheap part, paying the electric bill is the expensive part that never goes away. ChaChing ChaChing, need more taxes…

  • He didn’t do much for the homeless if at all. All they did was sweep them under the rug so to speak. They all move to other places or come back. Look at Kakaako. How many came back. Ige is all smoke and mirrors.

  • Best to be flexible on financing state govt at this time. Business investment has probably slowed because of fear of what Trump may do to the economy.

    Legislaturs know how to do that. We hire them to get the most of our buck.

  • So Ige will find money for rail and homeless but not a reasonable raise for teachers. Hawaii’s portion for the rail project is now estimated to be over $7 billion yet the “whopping” figure is the $3.67 billion pension liability? We could have cleared the pension liability, fixed all the schools, made the express buses fare free and create the infrastructure to address the homeless problem. But yeah, let’s dedicate billions more for the system that INCREASES the west side public transit commute. My total Mililani express bus commute was 1 hour and 30 minutes today (to and from downtown). With rail, that will be my one-way commute time. So thanks gov. and mayor for spending $9 billion to double my daily public transit commute. Money well spent, right?

  • Thank you Governor Ige for being on board with rail. He is correct in saying that we need more comprehensive solutions for better transportation for the long range future.

  • Hard choices: education needs money, but then so does the Expensive Rail, but so does tourism, but so does the home less, but so does social services, Heath Services needs money…. on and on….the smart ones are digging out of Hawaii–soon this place will be TAXATION TRAP– you will be working to pay taxes to support institutions that dont provide the proper return…such as quality eduation; adequate social and health services….sorry but it seems like only the ignorant or those that cannot get out will be trapped here–Unfortunate–such a beautiful place will be rotten below the surface…ONE PARTY STATE folks–das what you get w/ a one party state–dont complain–you are voting in the one party state people or not voting against the one party state candidates–how are we going to have change and improvement? Impossible –