Legislature sets aside $26 million for new courthouse


Pending a vote next week, the state Judiciary will have a little more than a third of the cash needed to build a new courthouse complex in West Hawaii.

Still, Sen. Josh Green, D-Kona, Ka‘u, said Friday, the funding is enough to ensure the project will move ahead.

“Now we can proceed,” Green said. “I sat with the (state Supreme Court) Chief Justice (Mark Recktenwald). He was enthusiastic.”

He praised the incremental funding as a “smart approach” to the project.

West Hawaii Bar Association President Robert Kim, who has been pushing state officials for years to build a courthouse complex and replace the widespread and cramped courthouses that now serve the Judiciary in West Hawaii, also praised Friday’s decision.

“We are so happy to have this money,” Kim said. “It will start the project. We’re on the road to getting it done.”

The funding puts the Judiciary in a good position when it comes time to seek the remaining $55 million for the project, he said.

“We feel confident the project will move forward,” Kim added. “Hopefully the Council of Revenues will project a good year next year.”

State legislators in a conference committee Friday morning authorized $26 million for the Kona Judiciary Complex project, out of a total of $81 million needed to fully fund construction of the long-awaited project. Another $9 million was set aside for the project last year, bringing the total committed to $35 million, out of a total project cost of $90 million.

The Legislature will vote on the final budget next week.

Hawaii Island legislators joined with Judiciary officials and West Hawaii Bar Association members in praising the funding decision.

“We appreciate the support of the conference committee for this vitally important project,” Recktenwald said in a written statement Friday. “This courthouse will ensure that the Judiciary can fulfill its mission of providing justice for the West Hawaii community in a secure and efficient venue.”

Green said the state budget includes funding for several other West Hawaii projects and organizations, including $5 million for repairs and upgrades at Kona Community Hospital, $2.5 million for the Natural Energy Laboratory of Hawaii Authority, $1 million for the West Hawaii Community Health Center, $2.5 million to increase water access in Ka‘u, $725,000 for water access in Ocean View, $550,000 for Ka‘u High School gym upgrades and $200,000 for the Kona Historical Society.

“All of these projects will have a profound impact on life in West Hawaii,” Green said.