Governor Ige delivers State of the State address and focuses on pandemic recovery and revenue shortfall
Governor David Ige delivered his State of the State address to a joint session of the legislature on Monday. In this address, he focused on Hawaii’s continued pandemic recovery and the expected revenue shortfall. He also focused on the effect that the loss of tourism has had on the state.
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Hawaii will experience a revenue shortfall this year, he said. This is in sharp contrast to last year’s address, where the state revenue was at a high of $8 million. The governor also said that the revenue shortfall is not expected to recover to pre-pandemic levels until 2024.
Broadband has proven to become a necessity during the pandemic, he said. The governor highlighted that the expansion of broadband services is a priority to the state. But broadband is also a large part of the larger conversation about equity that is happening around the country. As part of that continuing conversation, Ige said that he is prioritizing the expansion to rural and underserved communities.
“A critical part of reprogramming our economy is also the creation of a healthy statewide broadband network,” Ige said.
The governor said that Hawaii went from having the lowest unemployment rate in the country to having one of the highest in just a few weeks. The pandemic caused the state to use $71 million in housing assistance to avoid eviction, which was called “a model for the nation” by Forbes.
“Our most important responsibility right now is to protect the health and wellbeing of everyone in Hawaii,” Ige said. “That means having accurate and reliable and timely information. It means having an effective testing system to identify outbreaks and a comprehensive contact tracing network. It means having the resources to isolate those with the virus and to provide them [the] medical care they need.”
The governor’s address focused strongly on hope. However, members of the House, like Rep. Della Au Belatti, said that the lack of details in the governor’s address were concerning.
“Part of the biggest criticism for the Ige Administration for the last nine months is the lack of communication,” Rep. Sylvia Luke said. “I think right now people need clarity, and people need direction. And even if it’s bad news, we need to figure out how to deal with it together. Just because it’s bad news… we’re beyond the point where we’re worried about people’s reactions. What we need to do is be honest with the public.”
The governor did not address individual details of the continuing vaccine rollout or any specific plans regarding the non-economic side of the pandemic recovery.