HONOLULU — Ahead of Thursday’s Second Crossover deadline, the Hawaii State Senate advanced several bills today that align with its 2012 Legislative Session priorities: job creation, economic recovery and restoring the safety net. The overarching themes and priorities set forth also align with Governor Abercrombie’s “A New Day in Hawaii.”
Creating jobs and putting people back to work has been critically important to the Senate. The Senate passed House Bill 2145, which includes the Senate’s flagship initiative, known as “The Invest in Hawaii Act of 2012.” The measure is an aggressive $500 million general obligation bond-funded Capital Improvement Program package aimed at creating jobs by investing and stimulating our local economy from all corners of the state.
The Invest in Hawaii Act of 2012 would give a big boost to the economy and put people to work by appropriating funds for shovel-ready jobs for all trades in the construction industry – from carpenters to consultants. The measure would appropriate funds for much needed repair and maintenance projects that would extend the useful life of our aging facilities and infrastructures. According to estimates by DBEDT’s job multiplier, this measure could create or sustain more than 5,000 jobs.
With construction bids coming in below estimated costs and interest rates at historic lows, money allocated for state construction projects has never gone further. We now have an unprecedented opportunity to make significant reductions to the state’s repair and maintenance backlog,” said Sen. David Y. Ige, chair of the Senate Committee on Ways and Means.
The Senate today also passed its version of the $11 billion supplemental budget for the State of Hawaii, House Bill 2012. The Senate’s version of the budget is both responsible and responsive to the governor’s budget requests. Most of the governor’s initiatives have been funded as they pertain to maintaining the safety net and restoring the ability of government to perform necessary functions.
As a result of the mild economic recovery, the safety net could be strengthened. Additional funds for child welfare, domestic violence shelters, Medicaid, and various shortfalls across the Department of Human Services were included. Additionally, $18.2 million were directed to the temporary assistance for needy families program and $3.6 million to information technology initiatives to modernize the Department of Human Services.
The Senate also continues its strong support for education. Notably, the Senate has underscored education as a top priority by adding $44 million to the Department of Education’s budget. Specifically, the Senate’s budget focuses on key areas of investment in education, including: the weighted student formula, student meals, the community school for adults program, early learning and student transportation.
In the area of technology, the Senate calls for investing in the State’s information technology (IT) infrastructure in order to improve government and to better serve the public. The investment in IT upgrades aims to increase productivity, making government more efficient. The governor’s budget includes funding to significantly improve the infrastructure for IT throughout state government, an area in which the Senate has led by example. The Senate’s budget includes more than $27 million dollars for critical infrastructure IT projects that will support increased efficiency in the transformation of state government. The Senate also supports the governor’s broadband initiative to improve services and deployment of broadband to ensure that each and every citizen has access.
The Senate passed 197 measures today, which includes bills and resolutions.
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The Maui Senatorial delegation offered the following comments on House Bill 2145:
I encourage our colleagues in the House to seriously consider this measure because interest rates are at an historic low and there is no better time to make a significant investment in our state-owned facilities,” said Senate President Shan Tsutsui, who represents District 4, encompassing Wailuku, Waihee, Kahului, Paia and Lower Paia.
This bill puts investment toward renewable energy and information technology upgrade initiatives throughout our schools, hospitals, and office buildings, which will lead to future cost savings and a reduction in the State’s carbon footprint,” said Senator J. Kalani English, who represents District 6, encompassing Hana, East and Upcountry Maui, Molokai, Lanai and Kahoolawe.
All businesses will benefit from this bill. We encourage any company, including small businesses, to register with the State Procurement Office’s online system in order to be eligible to bid for projects. The process is totally transparent and open- with bids posted publicly for anyone to see,” said Senator Roz Baker, who represents District 5, encompassing South and West Maui.
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