By Wendy Osher
An estimated $72.6 million of matching state and federal grants for a Kīhei-Upcountry Highway are included in the 2014 supplemental budget that was advanced by the state House of Representatives, according to information released by Representative Kaniela Ing of Maui.
Ing, who is a representative of the South Maui district, and a member of the House Finance Committee, said the Maui delegation worked hard to ensure that the interests of residents were well-represented in what he called a “sometimes Oʻahu-centric government.”
“We came out with some big wins,” said Ing. “The Upcountry-Kīhei highway is a project that will greatly reduce traffic, save hours of driving time, and better connect families and friends. Maui legislators have been advocating for this for years, but the time is finally right to see this started,” said Ing in a press release statement.
The Kīhei-Upcountry highway is envisioned as an extension of Kūlanihāko‘i Street mauka of Pi‘ilani Highway, but Ing said the exact route could change in the design process.
Other Maui projects included in the budget bill include school facilities funding such as a new band and weight room for Maui High School, a new covered play court for Kamali’i Elementary School, and repairs and improvements for Kīhei Boat Ramp, according to Ing.
“While we have seen a budget surplus due to an improving economy, our committee decided to take a fiscally prudent and conservative approach to the budget just in case anything changed,” said Ing.
“We prioritized refilling reserves, paying off debts, opposing new taxes, and meeting basic needs, instead of spending frivolously. Just because we have more money, it doesn’t mean we should spend more. Sure enough, the Council of Revenues downgraded our economic forecast in yesterday’s report, and we were prepared,” he said.
House Bill 1700, the supplemental budget for 2014, now advances to the Senate for consideration.
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