Gov. David Ige had a packed schedule on a near-week-long trip to Washington, D.C.
From Feb. 19-25, he attended the National Governors Association Winter Meeting and met with various federal officials and business leaders.
“Meeting with the other governors was a valuable experience,” Ige said. “We were able to discuss issues affecting the states and share best practices that lead to innovative solutions.”
Ige was part of a panel discussion on Homeland Security and Public Safety where the focus was on Congressional action related to funding the Department of Homeland Security.
“Funding for the Department of Homeland Security was a priority for all of the governors,” said Ige. “If the funding is not approved, much of the work will continue at great personal cost to the frontline personnel would have to report for duty without being paid. In addition, a lapse in funding will have a real impact on FEMA’s ability to ensure that a wide range of emergency personnel have the resources they need to do their jobs and keep our communities safer and more secure.”
The governors conducted two formal working sessions with President Barack Obama and had dinner at the White House.
Ige also attended a signing ceremony with members of Hawaii’s Congressional Delegation and representatives of the Japanese Cultural Center of Hawaii and the Japanese American Citizens League.
“Visiting the White House and meeting with President Obama, not once but several times, was a highlight,” said Ige. “It was an honor and a privilege to be part of the Oval Office signing ceremony designating the Honouliuli Camp a National Historic Monument.”
The trip was not without its light moments. At one point, the president even heckled Ige about the cold weather.
The following is a summary of Ige’s meetings with federal officials and business leaders
- John McHugh, Secretary of the Army: Governor reiterated his support for the Military, which is a significant part of Hawaii’s community and economy.
- Anthony Foxx, Secretary of Transportation: Governor assured the Secretary that the State will do a better job of using federal funds in a timely fashion in order to maximize the receipt of federal transportation dollars. Also discussed ease of access for international visitors via Kona Airport and a preclearance program.
- Sally Jewell, Secretary of the Interior: Discussion centered on the state’s critical partnership with the Department of Interior, especially for the protection of natural and cultural resources and support for Native Hawaiian issues. It is clear that Hawaii’s homeless program is aligned with federal initiatives.
- Julian Castro, Secretary, U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development: Discussed ways to maximize federal dollars for housing in Hawaii with an emphasis on creating more rental housing and affordable housing options and improving and developing public housing throughout the state.
- Andrew Slavitt, Principal Deputy Administrator, Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services (CMS): CMS understands that all the states have faced challenges in the implementation of their state-based insurance exchanges. CMS is committed to supporting Hawai’i in achieving success with its state based insurance exchange.
- Patrick Kennedy, Foreign Service Officer, U.S. State Department, Under Secretary of State for Management: Governor discussed and expressed his support for the International Union for the Conservation of Nature (IUCN) World Conservation Congress (WCC) 2016. Personally invited President Obama to deliver the keynote address.
- Kevin McAleenan, Deputy Commissioner, Customs and Boarder Protection: Conveyed support for the expansion of the Kona International Airport as a second international port of entry into Hawaii. Highlighted support for Hawaiian Airline’s proposed route to Japan and for the preclearance program.
- Gina McCarthy, Administrator U.S. Environmental Protection Agency, and Mark Rupp, Deputy Associate Administrator: Discussed Hawaii’s position as national leader in renewable energy. Administration will be working with the states to advance the President’s Clean Power Plan and sees Hawaii is a model for other states.
- Curt Kolcun, VP Microsoft US Public Sector, and Jonathan Mantz, BGR Principal: Discussed ways to accelerate State’s move to paperless work environment.
- Bill Hansen, CEO, USA Funds: Spoke about a dedicated pool of money to be used in Hawaii to encourage kids to go to college and get onto a career path. Also discussed potential partnership opportunities.