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In State of the County, Maui Mayor Michael Victorino focuses on diversifying economy

 Maui County Mayor Michael Victorino gives his State of the County address on March 16, 2022.
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Maui County Mayor Michael Victorino gives his State of the County address on March 16, 2022.

Maui Mayor Michael Victorino is focusing on several priorities for the upcoming year – and beyond – for the county.

Victorino began his State of the County address Wednesday night highlighting the achievements his administration accomplished in the last year.

Department directors outlined ongoing efforts to improve county services and assist the community. But Victorino outlined his longer-term vision.

"My priorities for moving forward are diversifying our economy. It’s time to make Maui County become more self-reliant and financially stable. Better managing of tourism," he said.

"Maui Nui is a community first, and visitor destination second. It’s time to restore that balance. Building housing. Working families power our economy, and it’s time to provide homes that they can afford to rent or buy. Investing in the green infrastructure. Climate change is here, now it’s time to make the needed investments in our future," Victorino said.

Victorino – who is up for re-election this year – cited agriculture, conservation education and research, and technology as possible sectors to diversify Maui’s economy.

But he stressed the hospitality industry will always be the foundation of the county’s economy – his administration and the county council will continue efforts to improve its management.

Another priority is affordable housing – Victorino says in order to expedite construction, there needs to be investment into infrastructure.

"It’s time for county government to reassume its kuleana for building infrastructure. Proper infrastructure helps protect our environment, and allows developers to build more homes, more quickly. Infrastructure is necessary for wise and healthy growth," he said.

Victorino says the county has taken small steps to combat climate change, but will make significant progress with the help of the federal infrastructure bill.

"The money will fund new roads construction and improvements. The funds will be used to upgrade the water infrastructure, and upgrade highways with the emphasis on mitigating climate change. Portions of Honoapiʻilani Highway will be moved inland away from sea-level rise," he said.

Victorino says he will be presenting his budget for the next fiscal year later this month.

Casey Harlow is an HPR reporter and occasionally fills in as local host of Morning Edition and All Things Considered. Contact him at charlow@hawaiipublicradio.org or on Twitter (@CaseyHarlow).
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