Direct from Donovan… House And Senate Meet On Spending Bills

Sen. Donovan Dela Cruz

Sen. Donovan Dela Cruz

In the final weeks of our session, the Legislature entered the conference phase, in which both Senate and House counterpart com- mittees select members to be on the conference committees to discuss bills to reach a consensus by both chambers.

Some of the bills to be discussed are:

HB 500
Conferees for the committee comprised of members of the House Committee on Finance and the Senate Committee on Ways and Means were selected, and I was a member of this conference committee. We discussed the specifics of HB 500, the budget bill, and it was reported out for adoption.

I am happy to report that included in HB 500 are:

• $10 million for the acqui- sition of 500 acres of Castle & Cooke/Dole agricultural land located in Whitmore Village and Mililani Mauka.

By acquiring these parcels, the state will be able to preserve agricultural lands from being used for development projects.

The purchase also provides more local farmers with long-term leases, allowing agriculture to continue being a viable industry and thereby reducing our dependence on imported produce.

• Funding to the Agribusiness Development Corporation to investigate acquiring lands owned by Dole Food Company through land exchanges. The lands to consider are located between Central Oahu and North Shore, and are suitable for
long-term diversified agricultural production.

• $1.5 million for Mililani Middle School for plans and the design of 15 classroom buildings, ground and site improvements, equipment and appurtenances.

SB 1345

I also was a member of the conference committee of the House and Senate committees on education. A bill I introduced, SB 1345, was considered.

The bill requires that DOE develop a transition plan to end multi-track schedules in public schools and prioritize capital improvement spend- ing on overcrowded campuses. The multi-track system was instituted to address the lack of adequate classroom inventory to accommodate all their students. We currently are working on expanding Mililani Middle School, which is one of the largest middle schools in the state and one of four campuses still on the multi-track system.

SCR 185

I introduced this Senate concurrent resolution, which was passed, to request the DOE organize and coordinate out-of-school (after school) programs for kindergarten through 12th grade, and identify funding opportunities. Since there are approximately 4,645 home- less children in Hawaii schools, and approximately 74 percent of all children in Hawaii are raised by working families, the purpose of out- of-school programs is to pro- vide quality care, a quality learning experience and to prevent students from engag- ing in risky behaviors. These programs will enable Hawaii’s children to enroll, especially those who are not currently enrolled because of cost restrictions.

Contact Sen. Dela Cruz at or 586-6090.