On Wednesday, April 10, the Maui community had a unique opportunity to meet members of my Cabinet and share with them, face-to-face, information vital to the Valley Isle.
In my first "Cabinet in Your Community" event on the island, Lt. Gov. Shan Tsutsui and I were joined by state Budget Director Kalbert Young, Department of Agriculture Chairperson Russell Kokubun, State Energy Administrator Mark Glick, Department of Hawaiian Home Lands Chairperson Jobie Masagatani, and Board of Land and Natural Resources Chairperson William Aila.
Also with us were representatives of the state Department of Health--Director Loretta Fuddy and Deputy Director of Environmental Health Administration Gary Gill; and from the state Department of Transportation--Director Glenn Okimoto, Deputy Director of Airports Ford Fuchigami, and Deputy Director of Harbors Randy Grune.
Government That Works
Governor Neil Abercrombie
I wish to thank University of Hawai'i Maui College Vice Chancellor David Tamanaha for welcoming the group to the new Ike Lea Auditorium for what was an extremely productive and engaging discussion with Maui residents.
Breakout sessions focused on areas of great importance to the people of Maui, as identified by Maui legislators and community members. These included broad issues such as health, energy and transportation, as well as more defined issues such as the Pulehunui master plan, cane burning and labeling of genetically modified organisms (GMOs). I think those who attended would agree that the event featured some of the most useful and productive dialogue on these subjects in recent memory.
Cabinet members will share the information with appropriate state agencies, and the meeting notes will be made available, once compiled.
In the meantime, with the state now being administered in a fiscally responsible manner, there are welcome signs that our economy is improving.
The Council on Revenues last month increased its projection for 2013 General Fund tax revenues from 5.1 to 6.7 percent growth, along with similar increases for each of the next two years.
Hawai'i's statewide unemployment rate continues to improve, falling to a seasonally adjusted rate of 5.1 percent in March 2013. The non-seasonally adjusted rate was an even 5 percent, down from 6.2 percent one year prior.
Specifically on Maui, the non-seasonally adjusted rate for March was 5.3 percent, down from 5.5 percent in February and 6.7 percent just one year ago.
These figures show steady improvement, and Lt. Gov. Tsutsui and I are continuing to expedite capital improvement projects (CIPs) that stimulate the economy and generate local jobs, while improving state infrastructure and facilities.
In February, my administration released $50,000,000 for Kahului Airport to construct a multi-lane access road from Hana Highway to the Airport Loop Road. This segment of the Kahului Airport Access Road will connect with the state DOT Highway Division's segment starting on Hana Highway.
Funds were also released for several CIPs at Maui Memorial Medical Center. As elements of the federal Affordable Care Act are implemented, it is important that we continue to invest in a statewide healthcare infrastructure to ensure access to quality healthcare.
Improved economic projections will assist state Legislators as they consider funding our proposed balanced budget and other transformative initiatives. In December, the biennium budget for 2013-15 that Budget Director Young and I proposed included $130 million for construction of a new high school in Kihei--the largest CIP in the budget, and a strong sign of my support.
In addition, key cornerstones of my New Day Plan now under consideration in the Legislature include initiatives that will ensure all families have access to early learning, expand kupuna care and access to services, and implement needed upgrades to our statewide information technology infrastructure.
These are worthy investments that will impact the lives of current and future generations across all islands. The time is now.