Gov. David Ige on Friday signed a new emergency proclamation that leaves the mandatory 14-day quarantine in effect for travelers who enter the state before the end of August, and also helps the administration balance the budget by waiving a requirement that the state pre-pay its public employee and retiree health care obligations.

State law currently requires the administration to pay hundreds of millions of dollars each year into the Hawaii Employer-Union Health Benefits Trust Fund to pre-pay retiree health benefits, a mandate that Ige himself helped to push through the Legislature in 2013.

Waiving that law now will free up a significant amount of money to help the administration cope with an estimated $2.3 billion budget shortfall. The proclamation waives the pre-payment requirement for the fiscal year that began July 1.

Governor David Ige gestures during press conference announcing a spike of 41 new cases of COVID-19. July 7, 2020
Gov. David Ige is delaying state payments into the state employees retiree health care fund and taking other steps to help ease a $2.3 billion budget crunch. Cory Lum/Civil Beat/2020

Waiving the entire “annual required contribution” or ARC payment to EUTF for this year would save the state about $840 million, according to one official.

The latest proclamation – the 10th proclamation Ige has issued so far to cope with the pandemic – would also waive some state statutes to give Ige access to money that has been tucked away in the state budget reserve or “rainy day fund.”

Friday’s announcement by the administration says that a future proclamation will outline the details of the pre-travel testing option for visitors or residents who arrive from out of state.

That testing option is scheduled to take effect on Sept. 1, and would allow tourists or returning residents to skip the 14-day quarantine if they take a COVID-19 test within 72 hours of their trip to Hawaii, and the test result is negative.

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