Senate President Ron Kouchi seeks another term

LIHUE — Sen. Ron Kouchi is running for re-election as president of the state Senate because he wants to make sure Kauai will be recognized in the national political arena.

“Being senate president has put me in the position to make sure Kauai is being fairly represented, even though the island has the smallest delegation,” he said.

According to Kouchi, for every 25 senators, there is one representative from Kauai. For every 53 state Representatives, there is one House Representative from Kauai.

During the last session, Kouchi helped to secure funding that would increase opportunities for people living on Kauai.

From ensuring hospitals in rural areas will remain open for another year to connecting all 15 Hawaii Department of Education schools to Wi-Fi, Kouchi hopes to continue that momentum into the next term.

“We had a great session,” he said.

During the last session, Kouchi was able to secure just over $2 million for Samuel Mahelona Memorial Hospital in Kapaa and almost $5 million for the Kauai Veterans Memorial Hospital in Waimea.

Kouchi’s focus for Kauai was also on affordable housing and the Adolescent Treatment & Healing Center during the last session.

Through his leadership, the Senate secured $13 million for an affordable housing development in Eleele.

The Lima Ola Work Force Housing Development project will take about 30 years to complete. It aims to provide housing opportunities for families earning 80 percent and below the median income, according to the master plan.

Once finished, Lima Ola, which will be located near the intersection of Halewili Road and Kaumualii Highway, will span 75 acres and boast 550 residential units.

In April, the Senate approved a $5 million project to build an adolescent treatment and healing center, which officials hope will help curb the drug and substance abuse issues on the island.

The center, which will be built on five acres in Hanamaulu, will consist of eight beds and have four treatment programs. The programs — residential treatment program, day treatment program, intensive outpatient program and outpatient program — will be based on the participant’s needs, according to the Holo Holo 2020 vision.

Another notable funding opportunity the Senate was able to secure for the island was $700,000 for improvements to the Kauai Veterans Cemetery in Hanapepe, Kouchi said.

Every project approved last session will have a positive impact on Kauai, he said.

“They’re all equally important,” he said.

Because the state was not able to lift the Transient Accommodation Tax cap this year, securing funding for those and other projects is one way Kouchi said he can help alleviate financing pressures on Kauai County.

“Having served for 20 years on the Kauai County Council, I understand the money comes from the same taxpayers,” he said. “So it was certainly important that we help the county out, and mitigate the burden on the taxpayer.”

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