(BIVN) – Various Hawaiʻi state department heads have been going before state senate committees this week to explain their supplemental budget requests for the upcoming fiscal year, and the cost of future law enforcement operations on Maunakea is being figured into the spending plan.
On Monday, state senators heard from the Department of the Attorney General. The supplemental budget request for the AG includes $3,200,000 for Fiscal Year 2020 and $5,500,000 for Fiscal Year 2021 for “Public Safety Operational Requirements,” which includes ensuring the Thirty Meter Telescope can start permitted construction on Maunakea.
David Moore, Administrative Services Manager for the AG, explained to the Senate Ways and Means and Judiciary Committees how the department served as the conduit for the coordinated operation this past summer.
“There was $15 million set aside for security operations for this year,” or Fiscal Year 20, Moore explained. “We have spent about $2 million and total of 11 million has been billed to us and expended. And that only covers through mid-October,” he said.
The $11 million went to other government agencies, like Hawaiʻi County, Hawaiʻi DLNR DOCARE, the Hawaiʻi National Guard.
“In this ask, you’re not asking to cover those other people that might be billing you, you’re only asking for yourself?” wondered Senator Karl Rhoads.
“Correct,” answered Moore. “At the end of the session last year, nobody really had a good grasp how much was going to be spent, or by what agency, so it was just lumped in near the end of session.”
On Tuesday, the Senate Ways & Means and Water & Land Committees questioned the Hawaiʻi Department of Land and Natural Resources on the Division Of Conservation And Resources Enforcement (DOCARE) request for the same amount: $3,200,000 for FY 20 and $5,500,000 for FY 21 for public safety operational requirements.
The reason for the request, provided by DLNR:
The Division has been involved and is actively participating in ongoing law enforcement operations at Mauna Kea due to the Division’s role as a State Law Enforcement Agency. This on-going operation is anticipated to continue for an extended period. As these operations are expected to continue for the foreseeable future, it will have a direct and significant impact on DOCARE’s General Fund budget. This may result in other important natural resource areas requiring law enforcement focus and the Division’s current funding, such as enforcement of laws and rules pertaining to forestry, public hunting, aquatic resources and unencumbered lands, to be diverted. Current funding will not be able to sustain the Division’s required participation in this operation.
Hilo Senator Kai Kahele, who has been supportive of the TMT opponents making their stand on the Maunakea Access Road, questioned the DOCARE officials about the supplemental budget request.
“It just seems like a lot of money, when we’ve already spent over $10 million dollars on Maunakea,” Sen. Kahele said. “It just doesn’t seem like we have any plan, for all branches of government, of what we’re gonna do on Maunakea.”