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$3 Million in Improvements Slated for Honoka‘a High & Intermediate

Hawai`i State Senator Lorraine Inouye. Senate Communications photo.

Hawai‘i Gov. David Ige released $3 million in Capital Improvement Project (CIP) funding for Honoka‘a High and Intermediate School.

Allocated has been $1.5 million to provide covered walkways that will connect various buildings at Honoka‘a High and Intermediate School. This project will also improve cross-campus mobility while improving sidewalk ADA ramps and access. Another $1.5 million will finance the design and construction of new restroom facilities at the school’s auditorium.

Sen. Lorraine Inouye (District 4: Hilo, Hāmākua, Kohala, Waimea, Waikoloa, Kona) championed to secure the funds which was approved in the 2016 and 2017 Legislative Sessions.

“Honoka‘a High and Intermediate is a school that carries a substantial responsibility in educating a huge number of students, so I’m thrilled that my colleagues in the Legislature and the Governor recognized the needs of the campus,” said Sen. Inouye. “I’m proud and happy students and staff at the school will soon have a healthier and safer environment to learn.”

Honoka‘a High and Intermediate School was founded in 1889 and is located in the center of Honoka‘a Town on the Hāmākua Coast of the Island of Hawai‘i. The Honoka‘a complex is unique in that it is the only high school in the state that is fed by a kindergarten to eighth grade public conversion charter school (Waimea Middle), a kindergarten to sixth grade elementary school (Honoka‘a Elementary) and a kindergarten to ninth grade elementary and intermediate school (Pa‘auilo Elementary & Intermediate), serving students from as far as Kawaihae through ‘Ō‘ōkala, about a 40 mile reach.

Senator Lorraine Inouye’s Response to Questions on Special Session on Honolulu Rapid Transit System

 

Senator Lorraine Inouye

Aloha Damon,

Thank you for your email.

Although there are plans to go into Special Session, we have not gotten official word from the Leadership of both Houses, specifically, the President of the State Senate and the Speaker of the House, about whether we will convene and the dates. The last week in August has been targeted but no word as of today.

Hence, there Is no draft bill to reference, however there is a federal deadline such that your questions are timely and relevant and I am happy to respond to your questions:

Question 1: Will you vote YES or NO on a 1% STATEWIDE increase to the Transient Accommodations Tax (9.25% to 10.25%) to help fund the Honolulu Rapid Transit System in the upcoming legislative special session?

My answer is absolutely NO. The rail project is on O’ahu, and the initial financial plan the Legislature approved 10 years ago was to allow the City and County of Honolulu to increase the GET by ½% specifically for the purposes of building an elevated rail system.

Ten years ago, as Chair of the Senate Transportation Committee, I was one of the Senate negotiators and I supported the original bill for a 1% increase. However, during the course of the hearings, the Oahu Senators and State House of Representatives did not support it and ended up with the final ½%. Had we stayed with the 1%, we would not be in this position today.

As my District 4 constituents know, there is now a proposal under consideration to have the neighbor islands assist with rescuing Oahu on their shortfall by using – or more accurately, absconding – some of the Transient Accommodation Tax generated by Hawaii Island hotels. I absolutely cannot support this.

I have been in my district the last several days and all of those we have spoken to, and also many emails that I’ve received are not in support of paying into the rail shortfall. I have also circulated a poll and it is resoundingly opposed to this. My constituents have shared widely differing reasons for opposing use of neighbor island-generated TAT for rail on Oahu, and I agree with many of their reasons. Bottom line: it is not fair or equitable. The people of Hawaii County are already shouldering a recent increase in taxes – both property and fuel taxes. I will support my constituents first and foremost and those outside of my district on Hawaii Island and oppose such a proposal.

Question 2: Would you support a 6 year extension of the Honolulu General Excise Tax Surcharge of 0.5% from 2027 to 2034 if this will help fully fund the Honolulu Rapid Transit System without raising the Transient Accommodations Tax STATEWIDE?

My answer is YES. For the sake of my constituents, I must reiterate that this 0.5% GET Surcharge would apply only to Oahu, not the neighbor islands. I would support it but must also note that this proposed 6-year extension would not fully fund the shortfall. My preference is to support the City and County of Honolulu’s and the rail authority’s request to extend the Surcharge for an additional 10 years – to cover the shortfall – thereby not touching the Transient Accommodations Tax. I must add however, that even a 10-year GET Surcharge extension for Oahu is problematic because it would primarily be used for building the rail.
What about operational and maintenance costs going forward? They are not in the equation. This is why the County’s original request was to extend the GET Surcharge in perpetuity. Bottom line, this option, while it would address federal government funding requirements in the short term, it really amounts to kicking the can down the road for the next generation to resolve. This is sad.

Question 3: Would you support an increase of the Honolulu General Excise Tax Surcharge of 0.5% to 0.62% and a 3 year extension of the Honolulu General Excise Tax Surcharge from 2028 to 2030 if this will fully fund the Honolulu Rapid Transit System without raising the Transient Accommodations Tax STATEWIDE?

My answer is YES. I have shared a recommendation to allow the City and County of Honolulu the option to raise an additional 1% with Legislative leadership. I also believe such an increase may have to go for several more years as a 2-year extension may not fully fund the shortfall.

Thank you, Damon, for helping the people of Hawaii, especially neighbor islanders, understand what’s at stake and have their voices heard.

Sincerely, Lorraine R. Inouye
Senator, District 4 (Hawai’i Island – North Hilo-Hamakua-Waimea-Kohala-Waikoloa-North Kona)

Hawaii Senators Kim and Inouye Appointed to Leadership Position for National Organization

Two Hawai‘i State Senators have been selected to serve in leadership roles for the National Foundation for Women Legislators (NFWL), the nation’s oldest non-partisan organization addressing the needs of elected women at the city, county, and state levels of government.

Senator Donna Mercado Kim (Dist. 14 – Kapalama, ‘Alewa, Kalihi Valley, Ft. Shafter, Moanalua Gardens & Valley, portions of Halawa and ‘Aiea) was recently appointed to serve on the 2017 Policy Committee for the NFWL.

As a member of the Policy Committee, Sen. Kim will contribute to all committee business by developing education policy programs on policy issues, engaging with policy partners, and recommending which areas of policy the Foundation shall focus on.  The Committee will focus on shared legislation by encouraging elected women to exchange legislative ideas.  This is a new emphasis for NFWL and the Policy Committee will play an integral role in the launch and maintenance of shared legislation.

“It’s an honor to be asked to serve on the Policy Committee,” said Sen. Kim, who has been a member of NFWL since 2015. “This year more than ever, there are timely, pressing issues facing our communities.  Hawai‘i is not alone in many of these problem areas such as homelessness, the economy, and education. Being on this Committee allows me to collaborate with other women legislators across the country and find creative solutions.”

Senator Lorraine Inouye (Dist. 4 – Hilo, Hamakua, Kohala, Waimea, Waikoloa, Kona) was recently appointed to serve as the 2017 State Director for the NFWL.

“I’m proud to serve as the State Director for this distinguished organization,” said Sen. Inouye.  “The greatest rising force in politics is not a political party, but women. I know that there is much that can be accomplished to help our state and our country by working together as elected women.”

“We are so honored Senators Kim and Inouye have accepted leadership positions in our foundation,” shared Minnesota State Senator Carrie Ruud, NFWL’s 2017 Chair. “They will play a crucial role in the continued success of NFWL, as we embark on our most exciting year yet.”

Sens. Kim and Inouye begin serving in their new positions immediately, and will hold this office through the end of 2017.

About the National Foundation for Women Legislators, Inc. (NFWL)

Through annual educational and networking events, the National Foundation for Women Legislators supports elected women from all levels of governance.   As a non-profit, non-partisan organization, NFWL does not take ideological positions on public policy issues, but rather serves as a forum for women legislators to be empowered through information and experience.   www.womenlegislators.org

Senator Gilbert Kahele Big Island Celebration of Life – Process to Nominate Replacement at Legislature

On January 26th, Hawaii Senator Gilbert Kahele passed away.  A celebration of life for Senator Kahele will be held on Monday, February 8, 2016 at 5 p.m. at the Hilo Civic Auditorium.  A private burial at sea will be held at Kapua Bay.

Kahele Motorcade
The process to nominate a replacement for him at the State Legislature was explained by Big Island Senator Lorraine Inouye as following:

The process will be that the Hawaii County Party Chair, Phil Barnes, will be notifying the precinct presidents of senate District 1.

A meeting must be held to have precinct members cast votes for their person, instructions to be determined.

It goes to several rounds, a vote cast for candidates by precincts, until such time a final three, who survived, their names will be sent to the State Party Chair, who then forwards those 3 names to the governor.

The meeting will be somewhere in Hilo, at a date picked by the Party chair and his officers.  I understand it will be sometime this month.
Please continue to search on the Hawaii County website as, I am sure information will be posted, or contact your precinct president.

I am sure there will be a deadline and must be a Democrat.

Candidates must be a democrat in the Senate District 1 only. Candidates may not only be elected official.  The election area will be cordoned off to keep candidates and precinct members who will participate in the voting process in a secured section of the place to be determined, but cannot close such meeting from other democrats who would like to observe in another section of the event.

That is the democratic process.

I see nothing in the current statute in the HRS of Hawaii to deny observers.  But they cannot participate in this election process.

All instructions must be clear at the day of the voting and conducted by the County Party Chair and the State Party President.

Lorraine R Inouye
Senator – District 4

Big Island Senator Urges Action on Federal Highway Fund Extension

The recently appointed Chair of the Senate Committee on Transportation and Energy is expressing grave concern over the looming expiration date on federal transportation funding.

Sen. Lorraine Inouye

Sen. Lorraine Inouye

Senator Lorraine Inouye (Dist. 4 – N. Kona, Kohala, N. Hilo, Hāmākua) addressed Hawai‘i’s Congressional delegation in a letter urging action on federal funding authorization to avoid a lapse in funding that would severely impact state projects and to support the passage of a bill that will create a more sustainable funding stream for individual transportation projects on a long-term basis.

“Hawai‘i relies greatly on federal funds, as do other states, and our State’s transportation projects depend on long-term commitments from federal funding,” said Sen. Inouye. “It is imperative for Congress to continue to fund projects that have already started while looking for additional long-term solutions that continue to support Hawai‘i’s needs.”

The U.S. House of Representatives on Wednesday approved HR 2353, the Highway Transportation Funding Act of 2015.  The bill extends funding for the Highway Trust Fund until July 31 through a series of “reconciliation of funds” measures amending the Highway and Transportation Funding Act of 2014. The bill now goes on to the Senate.

Congress has until May 31 to take action on authorizing federal funding for state highway, bridge, and transit projects.  Without action prior to this date, federal aid funds for state projects would be halted.