The Governor delivered his State of the State address to the Legislature today.
Governor David Ige says choices made today will affect the lives of many in the future, including that of Alekah Obra Garcia, the first baby born in Hawai’i in 2019 and a member of the high school class of 2037.
“We must create a universal, statewide, high quality public pre-school system that will give every child in Hawai’i a head start on learning. But, I don’t just want to add pre-kindergarten classes. I’m proposing to the DOE that we restructure schools presently composed of kindergarten to grades 6, to pre-K to grade 5.”
Grade six would then become part of the middle school system. He says it would be a long-term project funded incrementally. The Governor also wants to build condominiums for sale on state lands utilizing 99-year leases. He says the condos will be for sale units and not rentals and should be self-sufficient. Another initiative would change the Transient Accommodation Tax, T-A-T.
“We will be asking the legislature to remove the current $103M cap on the TAT and return the tax to how it originally functioned, allocating to the counties a straight percentage of TAT funds collected.”
But, House Speaker Scott Saiki says he has reservations about the TAT give-back to the counties.
“If we were to remove the cap, then the state would lose approximately $380M per year. Three-hundred eighty million dollars of the TAT currently goes to the State General Fund after the contributions are made to the counties and to the other special funds that are funded through the TAT.”
The Governor has submitted 124 administration bills to the legislature to fund homelessness programs, build a new jail to replace the O’ahu Community Correctional Center, increase the minimum wage and other environmental and land conservation initiatives. Senate President Ron Kouchi says he’s ready to move forward.
“Last year, in spite of different political choices by each and every one of us, we rose above the politics and joined together. And, I stand committed to work with you, Governor, to create that future.”
The Governor ended his speech by circling back to the future.
“Alekah Obra Garcia is our future. We have a job to do to prepare these islands for her. So let’s get started, shall we?”
The cutoff to introduce new bills is Thursday. Wayne Yoshioka, HPR News.