Ige appoints former deputy chief of staff to head Hawaii's budget and finance department

February 06, 2018

Original Article

Hawaii Gov. David Ige on Tuesday appointed Laurel Johnston to serve as the director of the state Department of Budget and Finance.

Johnston has served as acting director of the department following retirement of Wesley Machida at the end of last year. Prior to that, Johnston was the deputy director of the department.

“It’s an honor and a privilege to continue serving the people of Hawaii as I have for three decades. I appreciate the opportunity to serve under Governor Ige and will work collaboratively to manage our state’s fiscal resources,” Johnston said in a statement.

During her 30-year career in Hawaii, Johnston has worked as a public administrator, researcher and writer in the policy areas of education and health, criminal and social justice, economic development and public finance.

In one of her previous roles as Ige's deputy chief of staff, Johnston served as the governor's representative in dealings with the failed Hawaii Health Connector.

The health connector was launched by Hawaii officials who opted to create the state's own health insurance exchange under the Affordable Care Act, commonly known as "Obamacare," in an effort to preserve certain state benefits, such as employer-mandated health insurance under the Prepaid Health Care Act, which is unique to Hawaii.

The connector ceased operations in December 2015.

Her appointment is subject to Senate confirmation.