HONOLULU (KHON2) — Gov. David Ige delivered his 2022 State of the State Address on Monday.
“We’ve had to face shutdowns, restrictions of all kinds, and two variants that have changed how we deal with the coronavirus — and the fight is far from over,” Ige said. “But I’m proud of the way that we, as a community, have responded to the pandemic.”
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The governor asked the Legislature to focus on funding a variety of programs to improve the state’s response to the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic, including the expansion of the University of Hawaii’s doctor residency program. He said the virus has been relentless in exposing the gaps in the state’s healthcare infrastructure, and we need to address the critical shortages of doctors and nurses.
“In this way, we can increase the number of doctors doing their residency on the neighbor islands from only five to 50,” Ige said.
He’s also asking for funding to add more clinical instructors at community colleges, specifically 39 lecturers across multiple campuses to handle the rise in demand for nursing programs.
Ige added that a $3.7 million federally funded project will assist in boosting healthcare goals by training and employing students to be “health and digital navigators” in 50 libraries statewide. These high school and undergraduate students will help people access telehealth services and find information on COVID-19 among other health topics.
In addition to healthcare goals, Ige talked about strengthening our communities and empowering Hawaii’s schools. He has asked legislators to restore funds that were taken away from schools during the pandemic.
“This includes funds to take care of those who teach our students and to support the development of new teachers, especially in areas with chronic shortages such as Hawaiian immersion and special needs,” Ige said.
Last week, the governor held a news conference to talk about how American Rescue Plan Act (ARPA) funds are being distributed statewide, announcing that all of $1.6 billion was allocated. Part of that announcement included the $28 million going to the University of Hawaii.
Ige said Hawaii’s share of the $1.9 trillion American Rescue Plan signed by President Joe Biden gave much-needed breathing room to put off further layoffs and furloughs, as well as to provide relief to critical programs.
Below are some of the highlights:
- $84 million to Emergency Medical Services and injury prevention
- $60 million to Hawaii Tourism Authority
- $48 million to the Hawaii Dept. of Public Safety to strengthen COVID response in facilities statewide
- $41 million to Hawaii Safe Travels program
- $28 million to University of Hawaii
- $32 million to support state hospital systems
- $16 million to Hawaii Health Systems Corporation
- $11 million to Hawaii Convention Center to continue operations
- $10.8 million to homeless services
- $8 million to Hawaii State Department of Health for administrative needs and costs
- $6.5 million in benefits to eligible residents, serving approximately 300,000 people
- $5 million to Green Job Youth Corps program to fund up to 1,000 residents who want to pursue careers in conservation
- $1.5 million to support senior centers
Click here to see the budget highlights of Ige’s Executive Supplemental Budget for 2021-23.
Get more coronavirus news: COVID vaccines, boosters and Safe Travels information
“From my vantage point, I see a Hawaii that remains strong and true to itself. I see families come together, even when they cannot not physically get together,” Ige said on Monday. “I see a Hawaii that has been tested and tested over, and over again during this pandemic. We may have bent, but we did not break.”