Senator Michelle Kidani, vice chair of the Senate Committee on Ways and Means, offered these remarks in support of House Bill 200, the Hawaii State Budget, on the floor of the Senate on April 30, 2013.
Thank you Madam President. I rise in support of this measure.
This past session has been an interesting one to say the least. I say this because of how different this year has been from the last several, in which the State was dealing with the economic crises that gripped our economy and affected the entire nation. In the last few years, the creation of the CIP budget was driven in large part by the need for us to step in to provide that shot in the arm, that boost, to get things rolling again. The thought then was to get people back to work, to maintain and improve what we already had, while planning for the future needs of our state.
Now, thankfully, our economy is slowly improving and we have a job market, especially– in the construction industry–that is rebounding.
I said earlier that this year has been an interesting one. In some ways, the prioritization and vetting process done for the CIP budget was more difficult than in past years. This bill will fund thousands of worthwhile and critically needed projects; projects that will impact the lives of our residents now, and for many years to come. However, this bill is not perfect. There are projects, while valuable, while needed, while important for our state, we were not able to fund this year. These decisions were asked were made after doing our due diligence, being thoughtful, careful and mindful of our responsibilities.
HB200 CD1 proposes a CIP budget for Fiscal Biennium 2103-2015 in the amount of just over $3 Billion, of which $1.36 billion is funded by General Obligation or Reimbursable Bonds.
We will continue the progress made in renovating, repairing and maintaining existing state-owned facilities to utilize our current resources and reduce general fund expenditures in the future.
The CD proposes nearly $400 million to fund these types of projects for the Department of Education, Department of Health’s Waimano Ridge facility, Hawaii Health System Corporation’s network of hospitals, and hundreds of other projects in the UH system, DLNR, and DAGS.
We also looked at previous requests to fund aging infrastructure to move people, goods and materials which has been in disrepair or unusable. To address this we focused considerably on transportation. The basics… repairing our highways, expanding our harbors, and renovating and modernizing our airports.
Approximately $1.2 billion is appropriated for the Department of Transportation for projects such as $70 million for the expansion of Kona International Airport to meet the requirements of increasing visitor arrivals. Another $140 million is included for Honolulu International Airport, for improvements and upgrades for the main gateway to our state.
We are also supporting increased capacity at our harbors, statewide, to handle the import and export of goods and products, as well as dozens of highway improvements and bridge repairs. These projects will continue the process of addressing the declining conditions of our highways and transportation infrastructure.
Another priority was to designate appropriations for projects needed to address future capacity needs and economic growth.
HB200 CD1 includes $38.2 million to build an Advanced Technology and Science Center at Honolulu Community College and $11.8 million for a dedicated facility for the Allied Health program at UH-West O`ahu.
Additionally, funding for the renovation and expansion of the Foreign Trade Zone facility was included to keep this business incubator functional.
We also appropriated $18.4 million for Ewa Makai Middle School, to complete the campus and reduce overcrowding in schools in the Ewa plain.
There is always much talk about keeping agriculture land in agriculture and an opportunity arose to purchase over 20,000 acres of Dole Foods agriculture land on the North Shore of Oahu. The Senate included $175M in Revenue bonds and $12.5M in G.O. bonds to take advantage of this opportunity.
This bill also invests in the State’s aging and obsolete IT infrastructure by appropriating over $130 million for informational systems to begin the process of creating a statewide information network, streamline tax collections, maintain and share critical health information, as well provide for a secure communication network for the islands.
One of these is the Trans-Pacific cable project. By 2015, the state will be close to reaching full capacity of its existing broadband network. In addition, Hawaii is being bypassed as a vital communication hub in the Pacific. This project will begin to address these concerns and move Hawaii to the forefront in telecommunications technology.
In closing, I would like to thank Senate President Kim, Chair Ige, and our counterparts in the House for their support and hard work in crafting this CIP budget. I believe we all look forward to the positive impact this budget will have on the State.