Lawmakers spend $5 billion for state projects

By Catherine Cruz
Published On: Apr 25 2014 09:49:22 PM HST
Updated On: Apr 25 2014 09:49:31 PM HST

The state lawmakers handle budgets concerning the University of Hawaii campuses, the department of transportation, Honolulu International Airport and Turtle Bay.

HONOLULU -

Lawmakers were able to reach agreements on the state budget Friday afternoon.

Click here to watch Catherine Cruz's report.

They put the budget to bed with more than $5 billion worth of Capitol Improvement Projects.

Higher and lower education is seeing more dollar signs. The University of Hawaii is in line for $90 million for new projects.

Among the big ticket items, the Hilo pharmacy school named after late Sen. Dan Inouye will get the $33 million dollars it needs for a build-out.
The budget also includes funding for next major building at the UH West Oahu campus.

"This was a very clever solution from the legislature to combine the administration building with the Allied Health building and it's a larger appropriation put into one building, so it will be combined," said acting UH President David Lassner.

Lassner was glad for money to fund 89 West Oahu staff positions. Some are temporary jobs now to be made permanent.

UH did not get money for a new plan to tackle a much needed overhaul of aging facilities, but lawmakers gave enough funds to make sure it doesn't lose any more ground for at least another year.

"It's not a total solution, but it is something we will work toward in the next session," said Hawaii Senate Ways and Means Chair David Ige.

Public schools should see their budgets restored to previous levels of $700 million with enough to help fund new teacher and school evaluations.

"We are happy to be back to the level we were at last year, which is a few thousand dollars more than our funding level back in 2008 so we have been trying to do more with less," said Kathryn Matayoshi, Department of Education School Superintendent.

The budget goes include major money for the Department of Transportation. It carved out $1.9 billion for highways and harbors including $280 million for a new mauka concourse at the Honolulu International Airport.

The budget also includes $40 million for grants in aid that will get doled out to various non-profits.

The budget does not include money for Turtle Bay which prompted a huddle at noon on Friday with the governor's staff and house members.

On Thursday the senate proposed a plan to restructure debt for the Hawaii Convention Center to make the deal happen and to allow the budget plan to move ahead.

Officials say they have felt a sense of urgency to fund this year's projects.

"In the administration and the senate there is. The house is taking a little more cautious route," said Rep. Joe Souki, state house speaker.

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