Lawmakers Skeptical of Ige's Call For Investments In Digital Economic Future

Jan 25, 2021

In his annual state of the state address, Hawaii Governor David Ige outlined his vision for Hawaii’s post-pandemic future; what he called Hawaii 2.0.

The concept was light on details, but centers around reorienting the islands’ economy toward a digital economy that will attract remote workers.

As part of the initiative, the Governor wants to create a new state office to oversee the expansion of broadband internet capacity in Hawaii.

But that idea did not go over well with state lawmakers, who are facing the problem of a nearly $2 billion budget shortfall.

Following the speech, House Speaker Scott Saiki said that lawmakers were not inclined to support the creation of new government programs when the state was facing a financial crunch.

“We know that funds are going to be tight,” Saiki noted. “I really don’t see how we can create new programs at this time.”

The Honolulu Representative went on to say that the governor could still find a way to continue the broadband initiative without creating a new office.

House Finance Chair Sylvia Luke noted that the legislature was actually looking at ways to consolidate the state bureaucracy, rather than expand it.

The governor did not provide specifics on what measures he would support for reducing the deficit.