By Wendy Osher
Members of the Maui delegation praised the Senate passage yesterday of the Invest in Hawaii Act of 2012.
The bipartisan bill seeks to utilize $500 million in general obligation bonds to fund capital improvement projects.
Maui Senators say the bill will stimulate the economy and enable the state to generate or sustain thousands of jobs.
“Over 50% of Maui’s unionized carpenters are on the bench and yet there is plenty of work just no funding,” said Senator Roz Baker, who represents South and West Maui. “Senate Bill 2012 provides that funding,” she said.
According to conservative estimates released by the Department of Business, Economic Development, and Tourism’s job multiplier, the measure could create or sustain more than 5,000 jobs.
“This bill will get our economic engine going and create much-needed jobs that will get thousands of people off the bench and back to work,” said Senate President Shan Tsutsui.
Projects under consideration will focus on repair and maintenance needs to address aging infrastructure concerns. Focus will also be place on extending the useful life of existing state-owned assets and facilities. Consideration will also be given to projects that address health and safety code concerns.
“Indeed, this measure provides much needed funds for infrastructure improvements for our schools, UH-Maui College and all the UH system, our hospitals like Maui Memorial Medical Center and Kula, and DLNR projects,” said Sen. Baker. “It’s a win-win. Our government buildings need repair; our construction workers need and want jobs,” she said.
Another priority of the bill is to develop sustainable and renewable energy resources, such as photovoltaic technology.
“On Maui, we have the first large-scale commercial solar project in the State of Hawaii installed at the Maui Arts and Cultural Center,” said Senator J. Kalani English. “It is an example of how renewable energy will ultimately lead to cost savings and a reduction of the State’s carbon footprint.”
A portion of Governor Neil Abercrombie’s $300 million request for construction projects that are shovel-ready or address repair and maintenance concerns are funded by the measure. Funding will be allocated depending on each department’s needs and ability to commence work immediately.
In order to expedite the backlog of projects, Senate Bill 2012 makes revisions to the State’s permitting, approval and procurement processes to accelerate and expedite job creation.
The bill now heads to the House for further consideration.