House Budget Big on Big Island

March 20, 2014, 6:26 PM HST (Updated March 20, 2014, 6:43 PM)
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From courts to classrooms to Kona tourists, the Big Island stands to gain lots of funding from the budget passed last week by the state House of Representatives.

House leaders said that their $2.5 billion capital improvements budget, which has now been sent to the Senate, contained more than $436 million for CIP efforts in Hawaii County.

As previously reported by Big Island Now, the House budget included $40 million toward a new Kona courthouse – less than half of what the state Judiciary is seeking — and $33 million for a new building for the University of Hawaii at Hilo’s pharmacy school.

Other big-ticket appropriations included $8.6 million for improvements at the Keaukaha Military Reservation for a new home for the Youth Challenge Academy, which relocated from the former and once-again Kulani Correctional Facility; and $5 million for a new Waimea District/Regional Park.

The House budget included funding for water for agriculture and for communities, such as $4.9 million for improvements to the Lower Hamakua Ditch, $2.5 million to complete the exploratory phase for a water source for the Haao Springs and Mountain House agricultural cooperative in Ka`u, and $2 million  and $2.5 million, respectively, for the Waimea  and Ka`u irrigation systems

Education was another common theme among many of the appropriations including:

  • $14.9 million for classrooms at Waimea Middle School
  • $2 million for improvements for parking and drop-off areas at Honoka`a Elementary School
  • $2.4 million for completion of the first phase of Hawaii Community College – Palamanui in Kona
  • $3 million for improvements to athletic facilities at Honoka`a High School
  • $1.4 million for the library and administration building at Waiakea Elementary School

Air travel accommodations also figured large in the budget with $115.3 million for expansion of the terminal and other improvements at Kona International Airport, and $43.4 million for a new aircraft firefighting station and other work at Hilo’s airport

When it came to ground transportation, the House approved:

  • $27.7 million for further widening of the Queen Kaahumanu Highway to four lanes up to the airport intersection
  • $12 million for Mamalahoa Highway improvements
  • $8 million for work on the Akoni Pule Highway
  • $15 million total for other projects on the Hawaii Belt Road and various other state roadways.
  • $9.1 million toward an extension of Saddle Road from Mamalahoa Highway to a new western terminus at Queen Kaahumanu Highway, and
  • $6.1 million for land acquisition and design for the realigning of Hilo’s Puainako Street, which is the eastern end of Saddle Road

The Senate Ways and Means Committee on Tuesday postponed a hearing on the budget bill. The hearing has not yet been rescheduled.

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