The 2019 Legislative session has officially ended
"Today I'm just going to be honest, this has been incredibly difficult," Senate President Ron Kouchi said. A difficult session that ignited results, all the way to the very end.
"Today I'm just going to be honest, this has been incredibly difficult," Senate President Ron Kouchi said.
A difficult session that ignited results, all the way to the very end.
On their final day, lawmakers voted to fund ten new Pre-K classrooms and save 18 more Pre-K charter school classrooms from closing their doors.
The move is expected to allow more than 500 kids to get a preschool education next year.
The State had originally asked for 22 new classrooms.
"The education issues are unfortunately very extensive," Representative Scott Saiki said.
The Speaker of the House says all of his representatives support the Governor's plan of universal preschool but the state just can't afford at this time.
The Governor says he'll keep looking for more money.
"I know that there's additional funds to allow us to expand. I'm committed to universal access. I believe that every student should have the opportunity for a quality Pre-K experience," Governor David Ige said.
Lawmakers also found ways to continue funding Hawaii's Promise program to help pay for local students to go to University of Hawaii Community Colleges.
Homeless services will continue as will kupuna care and the creation of Ohana Zones.
Taxing illegal vacation rentals passed this session as did a bill to decriminalize marijuana.
"People assume that once it's recreational or decriminalized, it's legal and it's not legal by Federal law and I think that becomes the confusion," Governor Ige said.
One issue that remains unsolved, water diversion permits which are set to expire at the end of the year.
"As it stands right now, water will stop on January 1st, flowing everywhere. It's a sad state to be in but maybe we need to be in that state to finally resolve the issue," Senator Kalani English said.
"I think people are forgetting that we are trying to issue long-term leases for water that has never been done in the State of Hawaii. So this is a process and because it's water it has to be done right. We don't get a Mulligan for issuing water a water lease for 50 years," Governor David Ige said.
The Governor says he'll continue to work with the DLNR to figure out how to solve this issue.
Two other issues that the Governor prioritized that did not get address were raising the state's minimum wage and building condos for sale on state lands using 99-year leases.
Overall the Governor says he's pleased with lawmakers' work this session.