Housing, the economy, and schools. Those are just some of the many items Governor David Ige covered in his second State of the State address on Monday. He talked about it with us on Wake Up 2day.
He says public reaction to his speech has been good, and attributes it partly to having more time; “we’ve been working on the strategic plan since summer.”
Incredibly hot classrooms were the focus of much media scrutiny last summer. “It was unacceptable. What will we do out of the box to make this happen? We have a contract to pursue energy efficiency,” he says, referring to the Green Energy Market Securitization program, or GEMS. This would help the state Department of Education install air conditioners in classrooms across the state.
Revitalizing Kalihi is also on the agenda. “When you look at Kalihi and what we want to do, and what Transit Oriented Development gives us, it behooves us to make an investment. There are so many properties in Kalihi – schools, Oahu Community Correctional Center – that this is the heart and soul of the community,” details Governor Ige.
Many in the Windward community wonder about the safety of a mental hospital in Kaneohe following last weekend’s escape of “dangerous” patient Richard Liebman. Governor Ige says rehabilitating the building is one of his major capital improvement proposals.
“We know. If anyone’s visited it, they will see and understand it was poorly designed. It’s doing what it was never intended to do. It stresses the staff and leads to errors. That’s why we’re making it a priority. For too long, we’ve talked about it and done nothing,” promises Gov. Ige.
As for the specific situation of the escape of Liebman due to a faulty gate, he says, “We have a Cabinet meeting today and I’ll ask what happened, and can we get on it right away.”
The Governor plans to allocate more resources to Hawaii’s growing homeless problem. “Each individual and situation is different. It takes flexibility to move people from the streets to the shelter. We are launching a new $5 million public-private partnership with Aloha United Way. We hope to reach 1,300 families or people in next few months.”
Governor Ige says he’s realistic the goals are achievable, but only with cooperation. “It’s about empowering people to be part of the solution. Public servants are our biggest asset; we need to invest, give them the tools, support them. As for the public, we need community engagement. Government can’t be all things to all people. There needs to be a conversation about what’s in the best interest of everyone.”