6 Things That Stood Out at Gov. David Ige’s State of the State Speech

The Governor reached out and lawmakers seemed more open to his ideas.
Gov Ige State of the State
Photos: Courtesy of Governor David Y. Ige


Hawai‘i Gov. David Ige Tuesday offered an agenda for his next four-year term that sought collaboration from state lawmakers and the community.


The speech came after a tumultuous 2018 where Ige won re-election despite state legislative leaders from his own party supporting his opponent. This year he reached out to residents and lawmakers, offering a mix of goals and progress made over his first four-year term. And from the friendlier atmosphere in the chamber, compared to last year’s chillier reception, it seems clear that both the governor and state lawmakers are more interested in working together.


What made this State of the State address different?


1. Taking action on issues that people care about starting with education.

Ige proposed a long-term goal of providing public preschool to students statewide. The plan would restructure public elementary schools which now enroll students in kindergarten through sixth grade, to pre-kindergarten through fifth grade. “We must create a universal, statewide high-quality public preschool system that will give every child in Hawaii a head-start on learning, he said.


2. And more issues that people care about.

He pointed to an 18 percent decrease in homelessness over the last two years, says he will ask for $35 million for homeless programs and said that Lt. Gov. Josh Green, the newly elected physician, will help lead the effort as “the state’s new point person on leveraging privatesector partnerships to address the chronically homeless, which includes some of the most difficult situations to resolve.”


3. Reached out more on key issues that include affordable housing.

The governor made a point to name lawmakers, community officials and others who helped make progress over the past four years. For example, when he proposed building leasehold condominiums “critical to unlocking the potential for thousands of new affordable housing units to be built on state lands on all islands,” he praised Sen. Stanley Chang for helping shape that initiative.


Gov Ige


4. Style: Ige came across more comfortable addressing the joint session of the state House and Senate convened in the House Chambers of the state Capitol.

While he’s still not the most forceful speaker, Ige came across confident in his core beliefs and more polished in his delivery: “We need to protect those things which mean the most to us—our natural resources, our way of life, our values, and our children’s future.”


5. Drew a more receptive audience.

From the state lawmakers who must vet most of his proposals to the VIPs in reserved seating and the concerned citizens in the filled gallery, Ige’s proposals drew applause more than 30 times during the 45-minute speech. Senate President Ron Kouchi said lawmakers “stand committed to work with you.”


6. While state lawmakers have yet to review the details of the governor’s proposals, the initial response was positive.

House Speaker Scott Saiki described the speech as “very comprehensive,” and “probably one of the best that he’s given over the years.” Though funding some of the priorities will provide the bigger challenge, Saiki said, “our commitment is to work with the governor and his administration to highlight the top priorities for our state and to problem-solve to how we can address some of these areas.”


This legislative session, which opened Jan. 16, is scheduled to adjourn on May 2.