J.Kalani English

Funds for schools, infrastructure in Senate's budget

The Maui News
Thursday, April 10, 2008

By CLAUDINE SAN NICOLAS, Staff Writer

HONOLULU — More than $214 million in capital improvement projects for Maui County plus a bill to exempt intracounty ferry service providers from paying a fuel tax are among measures approved this week by the state Legislature.

The House and Senate will meet in conference committees next week to discuss both budget and nonbudget items. This year's legislative session is scheduled to wrap up on May 1.

State Sen. Shan Tsutsui of Wailuku issued a news release late Tuesday outlining the Senate's version of the 2009 supplemental budget.

School projects are a top priority in the Senate's spending plan. Funds include $8 million for the construction of a Lanai High and Elementary School classroom building and $7 million for a multipurpose center at Maui High School.

As promised earlier this session, Baker put back into the legislative budget an additional $20 million for the construction of a new Kihei high school. The money first approved last session had been taken out from the House's capital improvement project budget this year.

Other school appropriations for Maui include $6.7 million for a long-awaited cafeteria at Lahainaluna High School and campus improvements for Kihei Elementary School and Lokelani Intermediate School.

State Sen. J. Kalani English said the Senate's budget includes a $3.8 million appropriation for the planned Upcountry Maui reservoir.

"The reservoir is a necessary step forward in alleviating water shortage problems on Maui, especially in a time when residents need to conserve water," he said.

The Senate budget also sets aside $3 million for Upcountry Maui watershed storage and $500,000 for water infrastructure in Keokea-Waiohuli.

State House Rep. Angus McKelvey of Lahaina said he was happy to see the Senate's approval of $1.6 million for the widening of Honoapiilani Highway from two to four lanes from Kaanapali Parkway to Lower Honoapiilani Road.

A $10 million appropriation for small-boat harbor improvements statewide, according to McKelvey, includes a proviso that an additional $2.5 million be spent to replace a deteriorating pier at the Lahaina Small Boat Harbor.

As the state representative for West Maui, McKelvey said he was also glad to see Senate Bill 2816 approved for review by the conference committees next week. That bill would exempt intracounty ferries from the general excise tax on fuel, and it calls on the state Department of Land and Natural Resources to assign priority mooring space to intracounty ferries serving a county with populations of 500,000 or less.

McKelvey introduced a companion bill in the House. He said the aim is to give West Maui residents a transportation alternative via a ferry if Honoapiilani Highway is shut down in an emergency.

Claudine San Nicolas can be reached at claudine@mauinews.com.

Original article URL: http://www.mauinews.com/page/content.detail/id/502408.html

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