Head of State Labor Department Resigns After Two Months on Leave
The state director charged with overseeing jobless benefits for Hawai‘i residents has resigned after months of being on leave amid the COVID-19 pandemic.
On Aug. 5, Scott Murakami resigned as director of the Department of Labor and Industrial Relations (DLIR). Anne E. Perreira-Eustaquio will serve as acting director for 60 days, or until the position is filled. She has served as DLIR’s deputy director since Oct. 1, 2019.
Murakami has been on leave since June 1. He had served as DLIR director since January 2019.
“Scott was under a tremendous amount of stress and I felt that he deserved some time off. He has decided to resign from his position, and I respect that. I thank Scott for his service, and I wish him the best,” said Gov. David Ige Monday.
On Aug. 7, DLIR reported paying approximately $2.6 billion in unemployment insurance claims since the beginning of the pandemic on March 1 — 265,201 claims have been paid out statewide.
“Ninety-four percent of the valid unemployment insurance claims that have come in since the beginning of the COVID-19 Pandemic have been processed and paid out by the DLIR. Currently, our biggest challenge is the staff and resources required to address the high level of imposter and regular fraud in the Pandemic Unemployment Assistance (PUA) program,” Perreira-Eustaquio said.
Ige also announced that former State Representative Isaac Choy will serve as the interim director of the state Department of Taxation (DoTax).
Choy is currently controller of Ko‘olauloa Health Center in Kahuku, ensuring all areas of compliance and regulatory reporting. He also maintains the clinic’s accounting records and prepares and administers the annual budget. Choy also lectures on ethics across the state.
“Isaac has the experience and foundation to lead our taxation department during these difficult and uncertain times. I thank Isaac for stepping up during this critical period, and I know he will serve the department and our state well,” Ige said.
His appointment is subject to Senate confirmation. Choy assumes his position as DoTax director effectively immediately.
“We live in interesting times, and my goal is to take on the role of tax collector fairly and firmly for the good of all. Hawaiʻi has a long history of people helping each other. I will rely on the deep character of our residents to help our state heal and recover. With the help of our hard‐working men and women of the tax department we will be a part of the solution,” said Choy.
Previously, Choy served in the House of Representatives, Hawai‘i State Legislature, from 2008-18. He is also a licensed certified public accountant and once headed his own firm – Isaac W. Choy CPA, Inc