Two members of Hawaii’s congressional delegation have publicly expressed concerns that Gov. David Ige will allow federal coronavirus funds to lapse, and have taken him to task for an alleged lack of transparency regarding the state’s use of those funds.
In a statement this morning, Sen. Mazie Hirono, a Hawaii Democrat, said she wrote Ige earlier this week asking that he detail how he will spend down the $321 million that the state received from the federal government and has not yet allocated to any purpose, which may have to be returned to the U.S. Treasury if not spent by the end of the year.
“I remain concerned that Hawaii will not spend these federal resources before the end of the year, and that a lack of clear information provided by the state on how funds are being used is creating frustration and confusion among Hawaii’s residents,” Hirono wrote.
In her letter, Hirono noted that the state has spent roughly $23 million of the $863 million Hawaii received in the CARES Act’s Coronavirus Relief Fund, and that Hawaii residents should have clear and frequently updated information about how the state is spending coronavirus relief funds. She also called on the state to release details about the spending of federal dollars at least weekly, instead of the monthly reports the state has been issuing.
And in a Facebook Live forum on Wednesday, Rep. Tulsi Gabbard, also a Hawaii Democrat, said she and her staff are compiling a list of questions she wants answered by the governor about the state’s response to the COVID-19 pandemic, clear answers about the numbers of contact tracers tracking the path of the virus in the state and if and how federal funds to fight the virus are being used.
“There continues to be a lack of transparency about where federal dollars have gone. Recent reports say a very small amount, maybe about 10% of all coronavirus dollars that have been allocated to our state have been spent. So where is the rest? And why aren’t they pushing it through to be able to help all those who need help?” Gabbard said.