Safe, affordable, accessible, environmentally responsible, sustainable multi-modal options. This is our goal and it constitutes a “big ask” for “Big Island,” but it must be where we are headed.
As Chair of the Senate Transportation and Energy Committee, and the only neighbor island legislator on Hawai’i’s new Climate Change Commission, I am proud to have played a leadership role in adopting the Hawai’i Clean Energy Initiative to relieve our state’s dependence on oil, including transportation by setting goals to achieve 100% clean energy by 2045.
I also am proud to have helped push forward needed repairs and improvements to Hawai’i’s harbor and airport facilities. We have made notable progress with our harbors, and I remain committed to transforming our airports to a 21st-century authority to dramatically improve safety, security, and convenience for island residents as well as visitors. I am disappointed that my bill to transition Hawai'i airports to an authority underwent four major hearings but died suddenly in the final hours of the 2018 session. I will persist and intend to continue to push for this legislation because it would benefit every single resident of our state.
Also, it’s important to add that funding for airport infrastructure projects comes primarily from the airlines and other users and not from taxpayers.
Regarding our highways, I have worked with State DOT to expedite completion of the Daniel K. Inouye Highway connection to Queen Ka’ahumanu Highway, successfully increased the speed limit on portions of the DKI Highway where warranted, and secured funding and helped expedite bridge and road repairs throughout our district. I'm also working closely with US DOT leaders -- including bringing them to our district to ensure they understand our unique needs -- to maximize funding for Hawai'i Island projects.
Related to statewide transportation issues, I actively fought the proposal to “steal” neighbor island-generated Transient Accommodation Taxes (TAT) to help underwrite Honolulu’s rail system. I was the first State Senator to speak out against this and spent a lot of time lobbying fellow Legislators to vote “No!” Sadly, the great state of Honolulu won this battle, but I will continue to fight for Hawai'i Island receiving a greater share of the TAT.
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