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Governor focuses on Big Island, state economy

 

Gov. Linda Lingle speaks with Leila Kealoha, a forest management instructor at Kua O Ka La Charter School during her tour of the campus. (Photo courtesy of the Governor's Office)

Gov. Linda Lingle speaks with Leila Kealoha, a forest management instructor at Kua O Ka La Charter School during her tour of the campus. (Photo courtesy of the Governor's Office)

MEDIA RELEASE

Gov. Linda Lingle traveled to Hilo last week where she joined community leaders at a groundbreaking ceremony for the Hawaii Army National Guard and Reserve’s newest facility; toured Kua O Ka La Public Charter School; and met with members of the Rotary Club of Hilo, East Hawaii Council of Neighbor Island Advisors and Kanoelehua Industrial Area Association.

During a luncheon with members of the Rotary Club of Hilo, Lingle outlined her Administration’s plan to address the Council on Revenues’ most recent revenue forecasts, as well as long-term steps to invest in the future of Hawaii.

The Council on Revenues reported that, between now and June 30, 2011, the state must close a gap of another $730 million, which means the state will have lost a total of $2.7 billion in projected revenue over the last year.

Lingle outlined immediate steps taken by her Administration to address the projected loss of $2 billion in revenues, which included a restricting state general fund discretionary spending by 8 percent; putting a freeze on hiring, travel and purchases of new equipment; restructuring the state’s long-term debt and debt payments; transferring excess balances from certain special funds into the general fund; and utilizing federal stimulus funds.

To close the additional $730 million revenue shortfall, the governor is implementing a combination of employee furloughs, a reduction in health insurance benefits for low-income adults and the deferral of certain payments. Without the furlough plan, the state would have to resort to mass employee layoffs to realize an equivalent amount of savings.

While in Hilo, the governor attended a groundbreaking ceremony for the Keaukaha Military Reservation – Armed Forces Reserve Center facility.

The facility is designed to serve approximately 400 National Guard and Army Reserve personnel, along with their associated equipment, and will provide office space, storage space, classrooms, vehicle staging area, and a large indoor assembly hall for its tenants.  

The facility will also serve as a critical command and control facility for disaster response on the Big Island.

Also in Hilo, the Department of Hawaiian Home Lands (DHHL) signed a lease agreement with a Safeway/Target Stores partnership that will bring jobs, economic activity, and increased retail opportunities for Big Island residents as well as provide additional revenue for the development of affordable homes for native Hawaiians.

In addition to investing in the state’s infrastructure, the Lingle-Aiona Administration is building a brighter future for the state by investing in students through an emphasis in science, technology, engineering and math (STEM) education.

Lingle maintained this focus on the future during a visit to Kua O Ka La Public Charter School in Pahoa, an institution that emphasizes STEM education, as well as traditional Hawaiian culture and values.

Kua O Ka La Public Charter School is located on a 600-acre ancient Hawaiian coastal village site that provides opportunities for project-based educational programs. The school is a model of energy sustainability and generates its own power through solar panels.

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