Ige wants to give Hawaiians $100 refunds


Hawaiians could see $100 refund checks coming their way, Gov. David Ige said Monday.

Ige said his office is asking the Legislature to approve the refund checks given “recent revenue projections.” Families would receive $100 per taxpayer and each dependent, which means a family of four would receive $400, according to Ige.

The governor’s comments came during his state of the state address, where he laid out plans for new spending across an array of sectors.

Ige said schools will be looking to incorporate distance learning for more than an alternative for classroom instruction. Five million dollars will be used to launch an online portal for education to develop a curriculum for distance learning and provide additional training for teachers. It also will go toward projects where teachers would be encouraged to create ways to recover learning loss because of the pandemic, Ige said.

Meanwhile, the governor’s office also is putting more money into child care for working families, distributing around $80 million for child care businesses. The child care providers can use the money for personnel costs, training, rent, mortgage, utilities and supplies or equipment related to COVID-19, Ige said.

Small businesses would see significant investment, including $56 million to fund a state small business credit to provide capital for local start-up tech companies. Ige said the state is using federal funds to help small businesses with digital marketing and ecommerce initiatives.

During his address, the governor said more than $6.6 billion has been dispersed in unemployment benefits during the course of the pandemic, with an additional 32,000 families receiving SNAP benefits. At the same time, the state spent $260 million for rent and mortgage assistance.

The governor also will ask lawmakers to invest $400 million in what he called an “all-inclusive broadband infrastructure.”

“If the pandemic has taught us anything, it’s about the crucial role that the internet plays in all of our daily lives,” Ige said. “That’s why we’re leveraging state resources to maximize federal funding for broadband and proposing the largest investment in technology in our state’s history.”

The governor said this money would be used to create “critical” infrastructure for the future by connecting all the main Hawaiian Islands.

Ige said more money is needed for the University of Hawaii’s doctor residency program. The governor is asking for funding that would expand the program from five to 50 and add 39 positions for lecturers across multiple campuses for the university’s nursing program. Ige is also asking lawmakers for $45 million to build a health care facility at Halawa.

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