Legislature to Consider Natural Disaster Recovery Funding
The Hawai‘i State Legislature will take up the issue of funding recovery efforts for natural disasters that have struck the state during the legislative session beginning in January 2019.
Hawaiʻi County officials have asked the Legislature to convene a special session to fund recovery needs from the recent Kīlauea eruption. In addition to the volcanic eruption, the state was hit hard this year by Tropical Storm Lane, wildfires on Maui and flooding from Tropical Storm Olivia.
“House legislators are generally supportive of the county’s recovery efforts, but there are still many questions about specific funding requests and legislative proposals,” according to House Majority Leader Della Belatti “In addition, several natural disasters have affected communities statewide and decisions about funding for recovery can occur during the regular session.”
“It is important for the Legislature to assess the statewide impact of natural disasters affecting the state and not to view the volcanic eruption on Hawaiʻi Island in isolation of the recovery needs on all islands,” said Belatti.
Hawaiʻi County’s latest estimate is that $335 million is needed for priority recovery expenses from the Kīlauea eruption. This estimate includes $22 million for emergency response operational support up to 2020. Overall recovery needs are estimated at $854 million and includes emergency response operational support through 2023, infrastructure projects, recovery planning and implementation studies.
“House members have been meeting with Hawaiʻi County officials on their recovery plans and funding requests,” said Belatti. “The ongoing dialogue has been productive, but many of the legislative pr posals and funding requests need further discussion.”
House legislators have encouraged Hawai‘i County to further refine its recovery plans to identify specific needs, to work with the Governor to identify funds that can be used for immediate recovery needs, and to work with Hawai‘i’s federal delegation to apply for anticipated federal disaster relief.