BRIEF: Senate Passes Big CIP Bill on to House

February 22, 2012, 3:09 PM HST (Updated February 22, 2012, 3:09 PM)
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The bill that would allocate $500 million for repairs of state facilities while providing jobs for Hawaii’s anemic construction industry was passed unanimously by the state Senate Tuesday. The bill moved to the state House of Representatives where today it passed the first of three required readings.

Senate Bill 2012, dubbed The Invest in Hawaii Act of 2012, is aimed at capitol improvement projects that will reduce a backlog of maintenance work on state properties while taking advantage of record low interest rates for government bond issues.

The bill includes $150 million for repair and infrastructure improvements at public schools, $90 million for projects at the University of Hawaii and University of Hawaii at Hilo and $40 million for repair and maintenance efforts at state hospitals.

Sen. Gil Kahele (D-Ka‘u, Puna, Hilo) said the need for capital improvements is obvious.

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“If you were to drive through the rural areas of Hawaii Island you would see countless state facilities in disrepair, from elementary schools to the University of Hawaii at Hilo, from the highways to the harbors,” Kahele said in a statement.

Lawmakers said the projects will employ construction workers idled by the ongoing recession, helping to put money back into Hawaii’s economy.

A spokeswoman for  Gov. Neil Abercrombie said the list of projects to be funded is still being evaluated. According to Caroline Julian of the Senate’s media office, the various state departments listed in the bill are looking closely at their needs.

“The departments will decide which projects will be prioritized,” she said. One of the main criteria will be whether the projects are “shovel-ready.”

The bill also contains provisions to fast-track some of the projects by removing the need for county approvals for those costing less than $1 million.

 

 

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