Senate overwhelmingly advances HSTA’s ConAm; Various school projects in House budget draft

The HSTA’s Constitutional Amendment, which would allow voters to decide on a dedicated funding source for public education, passed the State Senate in a third and final reading overwhelmingly Tuesday, 24 to 1.

“The schools need our support to create 21st century learning environments,” said Senate Education Chair Michelle Kidani (D—Mililani Town, Waikele, Village Park, Royal Kunia) in a speech supporting the measure on the Senate floor. “There can be no better investment in Hawaii’s future than a fully funded public education system that supports the talent and aspirations of our keiki. Let the voters decide if they have the will to commit to this important education initiative.”

Mahalo to Senator Kidani for fighting for us and speaking in strong support for us on the Senate floor.

The only senator voting against the proposal was Gil Riviere (D – Kaneohe, Kaaawa, Haaula).

After a statewide public school teachers’ strike in West Virginia, lawmakers in that state this week approved a 5-percent pay hike for educators whose pay ranks among the lowest in the country.

“If you adjust for cost of living, the West Virginia teachers are paid between 15 to 20 percent more than Hawaii teachers do,” said State Sen. Karl Rhoads (D – Kalihi, Palama, Iwilei, Chinatown), in remarks supporting HSTA’s Constitutional Amendment on the Hawaii Senate floor.

The proposal now goes to the State House.

Mahalo to the more than 3,330 teachers who have submitted testimony in favor of the Constitutional Amendment proposal! And thanks to our community partners, including many parents, who have also voiced their support for our ConAm effort. Your voice is being heard!

Funding advances for new buildings at Pohukaina, East Kapolei and Waipahu schools

House Finance Chairwoman Sylvia Luke (D – Punchbowl, Pauoa, Nuuanu) on Wednesday unveiled the House draft of the state supplemental budget for fiscal year 2019. The proposed House draft of the state budget totals $14.3 billion in state, federal and special funding for the fiscal year that begins July 1, and lawmakers also announced a proposed two-year, $4.48 billion construction budget, the Honolulu Star-Advertiser reported.

That construction budget includes an extra $90 million in “lump sum” funding for maintenance of state Department of Education public school facilities, and $60 million for construction of the vertical-design Pohukaina Elementary School in Kakaako.

Other school construction projects slated for funding in the draft budget include the second phase of East Kapolei Middle School, which was earmarked for $13 million, and another $20.5 million for design and construction of a classroom building at Waipahu High School.

The proposed budget now advances to the full House for two floor votes next week, and will then move to the Senate for further amendments.