Children a priority

WAIMEA — State Rep. Dee Morikawa has a list of projects she wants done in her district.

Morikawa proposed improvements to Waimea Canyon Middle School’s gym, the Kauai Veterans Cemetery Communal Hall and Waimea Valley Road for the state’s Capital Improvement Project budget for the 2016-2017 fiscal year.

“The Senate changed some of it, and now we’re going to conference to decide what the final projects will be,” Morikawa said Monday.

The CIP budget was unanimously approved by the Senate on April 12. It addresses affordable housing, education and infrastructure improvements throughout the state, according to a release from the Senate Office of the President.

On Kauai, the proposed CIP budget adds $21 million to fund Hawaii state hospitals, which will help maintain operation levels for Kauai Veterans Memorial Hospital and Samuel Mahelona Memorial Hospital, the release said.

“If the draft passes, those hospitals will stay open, and won’t be in danger of layoffs for a year,” said Ron Kouchi, Senate president.

The CIP budget also includes $10 million for affordable housing on Kauai — $5 million for the Lima Ola affordable housing project and $5 million to assist with the potential acquisition of the Courtyards at Waipouli.

“We want to make a strong statement on homelessness,” Kouchi said. “While the focus is on getting shelters built, the other key piece is getting enough units.”

As for Kauai schools, the proposed CIP budget focuses on improvements to campuses, both at Kauai Community College and Hawaii Department of Education schools.

“Our children are always at the top of our priority list, and we need to empower them to be productive in the community,” Kouchi said.

Improvements in the Senate draft include $2 million to go toward KCC’s culinary arts program. Another $1.8 million is slated to go toward installing replacement windows at Kapaa Middle School, the release said. The windows will comply with hurricane wind rating and emergency shelter requirements.

“A concern pointed out after our busy hurricane season last summer was the need for improvements at one of our designated shelters at Kapaa Middle School,” said Rep. Derek Kawakami. “(So) funding for window upgrades capable of withstanding hurricane force winds as well as other upgrades to provide sufficient safety should we be so unfortunate to actually be hit with a hurricane strength storm are allocated in the budget.”

Additional improvements in the CIP budget include $30 million to address heat abatement in classrooms.

“Due to the scorching temperatures last year affecting hundreds of students across the state, and in preparation for the summer, it is imperative for the Legislature to act as the administration moves forward with their plan to cool 1,000 classrooms by the end of the year,” Kouchi said.

Other Kauai projects in the draft include $5 million for the plans, design and construction for an Adolescent Treatment and Healing Center, $2.5 million for the remediation improvements to Department of Hawaiian Home Lands dams and reservoirs in Anahola, $500,000 for air quality monitoring on the Westside and $700,000 for construction improvements to structural, electrical, and architectural repairs of the Kauai Veterans Cemetery Communal Hall.

Kawakami said projects he proposed were Courtyards at Waipouli, the adolescent youth treatment and care center and the Anahola dam and reservoir improvements and the adolescent youth treatment and care center.

With the Kauai Veterans Cemetery Communal Hall represented in the Senate draft, Morikawa is pursuing funding for Waimea Canyon Middle School.

“They need a better gym, so I’m working on funding to construct a covered play court,” she said.

The next step for HB No. 1700 is a joint conference between the House of Representatives and Senate next week.

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