East Hawaii News

House Budget Contains Funding for Pharmacy School Building

March 6, 2014, 10:54 AM HST
* Updated March 12, 11:20 AM
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Things could be looking up for the future of the University of Hawaii at Hilo’s College of Pharmacy.

After the state Legislature could not agree in 2013 on funding for a permanent home for the school, the proposed supplemental budget approved Wednesday by the House Finance Committee contained $33 million for construction of the facility.

The funding is contained in Draft 1 of House Bill 1700, which is the budget bill.

Last year, the Senate had $38 million for the pharmacy school in its budget but the funding was missing entirely from the House budget, and the two bodies could not come to an agreement during final budget negotiations in late April.

That was despite an intense lobbying effort by the university and Big Island community. UH-Hilo administrators say a permanent home for the school is critical to maintain its accreditation.

UH-Hilo spokesman Jerry Chang today said the inclusion of the funding in the initial version of the House budget bodes well for the pharmacy school.

“It’s very encouraging,” he said.

In response to criticisms of its proposal, UH last fall scaled down the plans for the facility to $33 million from $38 million.

The budget proposal also includes $2.8 million for the Hilo Medical Center residency program designed to help retain physicians.

According to a statement issued this morning by Finance Chair Rep. Sylvia Luke, other items in the $4.6 billion supplemental budget include:

  • $4.7 million to continue programs started with federal funds under the Race to the Top program, including $1.1 million for professional development for teachers and $1.3 million to evaluate teacher effectiveness
  • $3 million to launch a pre-kindergarten program to prepare the state’s 4-year-olds to enter kindergarten
  • $39.8 million for collective bargaining agreements and restoration of salaries at the University of Hawaii
  • $1.6 million to expand mental health care programs in the Department of Public Safety
  • $3.5 million for child-care subsidy programs for parents who work or go to school
  • $2.2 million for the REACH program which engages at-risk middle and intermediate school students in after-school activities
  • $1.7 million for training, and $1 million for new officers in the Department of Land and Natural Resources Division of Conservation and Resource Enforcement
  • $339,000 for two new deputy sheriff positions for the Big Island’s Third Circuit

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