Lawmakers approve $860+ million for neighbor island improvement projects


More than $860 million of taxpayer money will be used for neighbor island projects.

Lawmakers gave their approval and included money for various facilities and improvements in the state budget.

Hawaii Island will receive $389 million for capital improvement projects, including $126 million for Kona International Airport and $55 million for a new courthouse.

Taking a closer look, the money for the airport is part of the state’s modernization project, which will also help the airport welcome international flights.

“The first step that had to be taken to get there is having a federal inspection, like a physical space on the ground where people can come in and go through customs,” said Rep. Nicole Lowen, D, Kailua-Kona, Holualoa, Kalaoa.

The money for the courthouse will build a judiciary complex, which will allow the different courts to be in a central location. Right now, the courts are split up.

Officials say this new complex will be safer.

“The family court area right now is just rented space in an old strip mall. It’s very small. There’s no way to keep people separate,” Lowen said.

On Kauai, lawmakers approved $145 million for projects, including money for a covered playground ($2.8 million), firing range ($1.6 million), and Lihue Airport ($1.5 million).

The playground will actually be a covered outdoor gym for Waimea Canyon Middle School. Right now, the school is holding events at other locations.

“They use the county parks that are near the school for outdoor sports and then they have their May Day program outside,” said Rep. Dee Morikawa, D, Niihau, Koloa, Waimea.

About $1.6 million will be used for a firing range in Wailua. Right now the island does not have a range, which led to people making impromptu ranges.

“Hunting and target shooting don’t necessarily mix well, so we want to create a safe place for our outdoor enthusiasts,” said Rep. Derek Kawakami, D, Wailua, Hanalei, Princeville.

On Maui, $331 million will be used for projects including the University of Hawaii Maui College Maui Food Innovation Center ($7 million), Molokai Public Library expansion ($4.7 million), and Maalaea Small Boat Harbor dredging ($3.7 million).

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