Hawaii Senate passes $500M construction package

Fri February 24, 2012 - West Edition
Treena Shapiro - Associated Press

HONOLULU (AP) - A $500 million construction package aimed at stimulating job growth has cleared Hawaii’s state Senate.

The "Invest in Hawaii Act of 2012" bill would fund numerous capital improvement projects across the state. These repair and maintenance projects would update aging infrastructure at state facilities and address health and safety concerns.

The bill focuses on funding projects that are ready to begin to avoid delay in creating much-needed construction work.

The capital improvement projects would also help Hawaii businesses that provide supplies and other support to the construction industry.

The state’s estimated repair and maintenance backlog exceeds $1 billion. If the bill also clears the House, funding would be available for public works projects at schools, health centers and other state-owned properties.

State Senate leaders expressed bipartisan support for the bill. During remarks for the Legislature’s opening day Jan. 18, Senate President Shan Tsutsui said Senate Bill 2012 will address a multimillion dollar backlog of deferred repair and maintenance projects at state facilities, while simultaneously creating jobs by identifying construction projects that can begin immediately.

“Projects would be seen in every single one of our 255 public schools, all 10 University of Hawaii campuses, all of our state hospitals,” said Tsustui, D-Wailuku-Kahului.

The new construction would create work for painters, roofers, electricians, masons, plumbers and engineers across the state, he added, "and in return generate millions of dollars in disposable income into our economy," Tsustui added.

Minority Leader Sam Slom, the only Republican in the Senate, voiced support for the package in his floor speech.

“We’re going to oppose bad programs. We’re going to oppose bad bills. We will pay attention to irresponsible spending and waste, but we will do our best to offer fresh ideas and new solutions and to work with the majority on Senate Bill 2012,” said Slom, R-Diamond Head-Hawaii Kai.