Maui Lawmakers Come Home with CIPs

May 6, 2016, Excerpt from The Maui News, by Melissa Tanji

Maui County will see funding for various capital improvement projects, including nearly $38 million for more work on the new Kihei high school, $38 million for Kahului Harbor improvements and $29 million for expansion of Hana Highway in Kahului.

The price tags for Maui projects are among the larger capital improvement projects approved by the state Legislature this session.

In the supplemental state budget for next fiscal year, which begins July 1, Maui County will receive more than $200 million from the state – money for schools, highways and affordable housing. The lawmaking session ended Thursday.

"I think the Maui delegation is going to come back pretty well off," said Central Maui Sen. Gil Keith-Agaran of this year's session. "We wanted to address a number of issues regarding homelessness, affordable housing and agriculture. I think we did do that."
Keith-Agaran said $12 million will go toward helping the homeless statewide. Included in the funding will be standards for housing the homeless to ensure money is used efficiently, he said. Affordable housing funding will help developers offset their costs, he added.

While much attention was focused on a bill to allow Alexander and Baldwin to continue to divert water from East Maui under current lease terms, there was other legislation to help taro farmers as well as the state do work on streams on state property in East Maui.

Legislators also were keen to help employees facing lost jobs with the closures of Hawaiian Commercial & Sugar Co. and the Makena Beach & Golf Resort.

Bills approved this session call for job training and support services for workers unemployed or dislocated by the closures. Another bill creates a temporary program limited to Maui County to extend jobless benefits to unemployed workers.

Keith-Agaran said lawmakers also passed is a bill to help Hawaii Health System Corp. employees at Maui Memorial Medical Center, Kula Hospital and Lanai Community Hospital who are nearing retirement. The bill will enable them to "bridge that gap" and receive retirement benefits even as their jobs as state employees will end with the takeover of operations by Kaiser on July 1.

Maui County will receive around $23 million from state hotel tax revenues, the same amount it is receiving this current fiscal year, despite county officials lobbying for more.

Used by permission from The Maui News