Kenoi asks Legislature for transportion, civil defense dollars


HILO —Money for civil defense sirens, Kona International Airport, major roads on both sides of the island, a juvenile justice center, pharmacy building at the University of Hawaii at Hilo, rural residency program for doctors and the county takeover of two state parks top the wish list Mayor Billy Kenoi will be presenting today to two legislative committees.

Unlike previous years when the four county mayors made their presentations to a joint hearing of the House Finance and Senate Ways and Means committees, this year the mayors will address each body separately, with the Senate hearing beginning at 1:30 p.m. and the House hearing at 3 p.m. Because of schedule conflicts, some mayors will present written testimony only.

The Legislature convenes its regular session Wednesday. But leadership changes in both houses indicate real work will probably commence a little later than usual this year.

Kenoi said Monday that his administration met with the Hawaii Island legislative delegation and worked together on priorities to ensure a consistent message.

“We are going to the state Legislature as a team,” Kenoi said. “Instead of asking them to fund county initiatives, we are asking them to support state initiatives within our county.”

Kenoi’s priority list: Improvements to Highway 130, Keaau-Pahoa Road. In November, the state opened bids on the first phase of the plan to convert the existing shoulder lanes system on the highway into permanent lanes, and construction is scheduled to begin by mid-2013. Kenoi is asking for state funding for the larger plan to expand more than nine miles of the Keaau-Pahoa Highway to four lanes. Mid-Level Road (Ane Keohokalole Highway), Kona, Phase III. Requesting $3.5 million in state funding to initiate planning for the third phase of the Ane Keohokalole Highway from Hina Lani Street to Kaiminani Drive. This will be the final three-mile stretch of a six-mile arterial extending from Palani Road in Kailua-Kona to Kalaoa, mauka of Kona International Airport. Civil Defense Sirens. Kenoi strongly agrees with the administration’s budget request for an extra $2.5 million in each of the next two fiscal years to modernize the state civil defense siren system, which includes 36 new sirens for Hawaii Island. Statewide Juvenile Intake and Assessment Centers. The governor’s budget asks for $800,000 statewide, which would be enough to open a new center in West Hawaii in addition to addressing other needs throughout the state. University of Hawaii at Hilo College of Pharmacy and Health Sciences Building. Kenoi strongly agrees with the administration’s request for $41 million in general obligation and revenue bonds over the next two years to finance the College of Pharmacy and Health Sciences Building. Primary Care Training and Rural Residency Program, $2.8 million. Kenoi is working with the Hawaii Health Systems Corporation and the Hawaii Island legislative delegation to advance a measure to provide $2.8 million in each of the next two fiscal years for the HHSC primary care training program. This includes the Hawaii Island Family Medicine Residency program, and will also offer training to advanced practice nurses from UH programs. Transfer of Hapuna and Mauna Kea State Recreational Areas. Hawaii County has discussed this proposal with the Department of Land and Natural Resources in the past, and remains willing to work with the state to take over the operation, maintenance and improvement of the Mauna Kea and Hapuna Beach State Recreation Areas without the transfer of any state personnel or equipment.

Kona International Airport Improvements. Kenoi strongly requests $113 million in improvements for Kona International Airport, including a $37.5 million international arrivals building, and $70 million for a major terminal expansion. Kona continues to welcome chartered international flights from Japan, and is working aggressively to attract additional international air traffic, he said.