Improving Hawai‘i’s economy continues to be a top focus for my Administration. With the latest projections from the Council on Revenues reducing the state’s revenue forecast even further, we realize we will have to make more tough decisions to balance the state budget. My cabinet and I continue to work collaboratively with legislators and union leaders to close the projected shortfall. Though it won’t be easy, we remain committed to balancing the budget without raising taxes or laying off state employees, as either of these actions would further weaken our economy.
At the same time we have been working to close the budget gap, we have also been focused on ensuring that funds from the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act are used as effectively as possible in order to create jobs for Hawai‘i residents and boost our economy.
The White House has created a system of accountability for the distribution of federal stimulus funds to states. President Obama and his Administration decided the best way to ensure that stimulus funds are put to the best possible use, and for the intended purpose of stimulating the economy and creating jobs, was to use the nation’s governors as conduits for the funds and to hold them accountable for how these funds are used.
Meeting the requirements put forth by the federal government is a comprehensive process – as it should be. Nevertheless, we have been able to move forward efficiently in utilizing stimulus funds because of our ongoing focus on areas like infrastructure and clean energy, as well as our close collaboration with Senator Inouye and his staff to help facilitate the flow of funds to Hawai‘i.
Recently, the state Department of Transportation (DOT) announced the first shovel-ready projects in Hawai‘i to be started using funds from the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act (ARRA). Hawai‘i received $246 million in federal stimulus funds to improve transportation infrastructure statewide, augmenting the $1.8 billion capital improvement project plan we unveiled in December 2008 (www.hawaii.gov/cip), and further supporting our Airports and Highways Modernization Plans. Determining which state and county road projects would be funded by the ARRA required an unprecedented level of coordination between the Federal Highways Administration, state DOT, four county mayors and their transportation directors.
On the Big Island, residents can expect work to start soon on the replacement of steel bridges along Hawai‘i Belt Road – which is a state project, as well as county projects that will construct a new highway in Kona (Ane Keahokalaoloe) and build the first increment of the five-mile multi-use Waimea Trails and Greenway.
These projects, totaling $46.6 million, are good news for Big Island workers. The Department of Business, Economic Development and Tourism estimates that for every $1 million in stimulus money invested, 12.9 jobs are created or preserved. This translates into 3,170 jobs statewide in the construction industry and other related sectors that will be generated by federally funded transportation projects in our state.
Our HI-Way to Recovery website, at www.hawaii.gov/recovery, is dedicated to showing you how your hard-earned money is being spent to stimulate Hawai‘i’s economy and create jobs, including this investment in transportation infrastructure, as well as in other important areas like clean energy, broadband, health care and education. Please visit this website often for the latest information regarding funding received and new projects as they are announced. In addition, please feel free to send my office your ideas and suggestions at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Governor Linda Lingle