AP NEWS

Hawaii governor promotes proposals for working families

January 22, 2020 GMT
Gov. David Ige speaks to reporters in Honolulu on Tuesday, Jan. 21, 2020 after delivering his state of the state address at the Hawaii State Capitol. Hawaii Gov. David Ige on Tuesday outlined a plan to boost preschool education, housing and tax relief for families as he delivered his annual state of the state address. (AP Photo/Audrey McAvoy)
Gov. David Ige speaks to reporters in Honolulu on Tuesday, Jan. 21, 2020 after delivering his state of the state address at the Hawaii State Capitol. Hawaii Gov. David Ige on Tuesday outlined a plan to boost preschool education, housing and tax relief for families as he delivered his annual state of the state address. (AP Photo/Audrey McAvoy)

HONOLULU (AP) — Hawaii Gov. David Ige on Tuesday outlined a plan to boost preschool education, housing and tax relief for families as he delivered his annual state of the state address. Ige and state lawmakers jointly announced the package of proposals last week before the Legislature convened.

Ige said increasing the minimum wage to $13 per hour, together with tax relief, could result in an annual cash benefit of $4,400 to each worker. “We belief we have hit the sweet spot that will make a difference for our working families,” Ige told lawmakers.

On housing, Ige said leaders propose to build 17,000 leasehold homes on state-owned land in partnership with private developers. To help this effort, the state would invest $200 million in roads and infrastructure on state land in West Oahu. The plan would spend $75 million on affordable housing on islands other than Oahu.

The governor says he wants every three- and four-year old in Hawaii to have the opportunity to attend childcare or preschool program by the end of the decade. He noted about 20,000 children statewide currently don’t have that chance. “Business as usual is not acceptable,” he said.

The Democratic governor addressed criticism he’s received for not arresting those who have been blocking the road to the top of Mauna Kea to prevent the construction of the Thirty Meter Telescope, saying taking “strong measures”would have been the “easier course.”

He said more than the authority of the law was at stake. “What is also at risk is the glue that always bounds us together: our sense of aloha. It is the thing that underpins our laws and gives them meaning and an ethical foundation. That trust in each other is sacred. And I will not break that bond, no matter how convenient or easy,”

He began his address with a moment of silence for two Honolulu Police Department Officers killed on Sunday.

He used the Hawaiian word for family as he spoke to Honolulu Police Chief Susan Ballard, who was in the audience. Please know that our thoughts and prayers are with the HPD ohana and with the families of these two brave officers.” The audience stood and applauded for Ballard when she was introduced.