In his final State of the State speech this morning, Gov. David Ige proposed refund checks of $100 for every taxpayer and each dependent.
“For a family of four that means an extra $400,” Ige said. “In this way, we’ll also inject $110 million back into our economy, giving it a boost as well.”
Because of COVID-19 concerns, Ige spoke from the governor’s ceremonial room rather than before legislators and an audience.
Ige said the suspected fuel leak at the Navy’s Red Hill underground fuel storage facility “alarmed and shocked everyone.”
“We’ve met with Navy leaders and let them know that their first job is to ensure that our drinking water stays safe and clean,” he said. “Draining the fuel tanks at Red Hill is a good first step. But we must work to find long-term solutions. National security cannot come at the expense of our people’s health. I believe we can protect both national security and public health. But it will take determination and the collaborative efforts of everyone.”
Ige said the COVID-19 pandemic “is re-defining us as a generation—in the same way that the Great Depression, Pearl Harbor and the Vietnam War shaped their generations.
“Events and history have a way of repeatedly testing us,” Ige said. “Each generation must find its own strengths, its own answers, and its own path forward.”
“In many instances, we’ve had to choose between what is best for ourselves as individuals and what is best for us as a community,” Ige said. “As a state, we’ve never been one to take the easy path. Instead, we choose to do the right things for the right reasons.”
Ige said the state has provided more than 2.5 million COVID-19 vaccinations through “hundreds of clinics across the state.
”But the virus has been relentless in exposing gaps in our healthcare infrastructure, including critical shortages of doctors and nurses.
“To address these concerns, we’re asking the Legislature to fund the expansion of the University of Hawaii’s doctor residency program.
“In this way, we can increase the number of doctors doing their residency on the neighbor islands from only five to 50.
“More importantly, the numbers tell us that most young doctors end up practicing where they do their residency.
“We’re also asking for funding to strengthen the university’s nursing program and add more clinical instructors at our community colleges.
“We want to add 39 lecturers across multiple campuses to handle the increased demand for nursing programs.
“In addition, a new $3.7 million, federally funded project will improve access to health information, especially for underserved communities.
“The project will train and employ high school and undergraduate students to be health and digital ‘navigators’ in 50 libraries across the state.”
Watch a replay of the livestream video above.
Editor’s Note: This story is developing and will be updated as soon as more information becomes available.