HONOLULU (KHON2) — In his state of the state speech on Monday, Gov. David Ige called for the state to invest in digital technology to help get out of its budget crisis. Lawmakers like the idea, but are looking for more details on how it can be done.
In his plan to upgrade the state’s economy, the Hawaii governor proposed expanding the state’s broadband program so that even small rural communities have access to the internet. The plan is called Hawaii 2.0.
“Part of our task is to make sure that a student in Nanakuli can access an online lesson plan as easily as a student in Kahala, and that, in a digital Hawaii, everyone’s connected,” said Ige.
He says he wants to create an office to make sure the state gets its share of $7 billion in federal funds for this.
But legislative leaders say the plan needs a lot more details.
“Help us get through things like permitting, easements, rights of way. Those are the things that we need to know. That’s what’s holding up a lot of the broadband going to the rural areas,” said Senate Majority Leader J. Kalani English.
Some of the governor’s proposals won’t be addressed until next year’s legislative session. Meanwhile, Ige has called on former governors and business leaders to help put together a plan for economic recovery.
“I have asked all of them for recommendations by April, which will be folded into specific actions by the third quarter of this year,” shared Ige.
Lawmakers say they will move forward with their own plans to improve the economy. Among them, changing the way government works.
“We need to look at a different way to deliver services and ensure that we can get the job done. It is clear that we are not gonna have an economic recovery that can sustain government in its current form,” said Senate President Ron Kouchi.