Year: 

9
Kahului, Pu‘unēnē, portion of Wailuku
Representative Justin Woodson has been elected to serve and representative Central Maui since 2013. He currently chairs the House Committee on Education and has served in various other leadership roles in the State Legislature for several years. Recently, Representative Woodson has aided House legislative efforts to codify quality mechanisms in statute which has enabled Hawaii to maintain one of the most effective pre-kindergarten programs in the nation, according to the National Institute for Early Education and Research, a leading institution in the United States on the topic of early learning and education. During this time frame, Representative Woodson has also helped establish the Hawaii Promise Program in all University of Hawaii Community Colleges. The Promise Program provides free college to Hawaii students with any financial need. In 2018, Representative Woodson strengthened STEM education Hawaii's public schools by introducing and passing a measure to formalize computer science within the DOE's K-12 grade curriculum, strengthening STEM education in Hawaii's public schools. In 2020, Representative Woodson helped legislative efforts on behalf of the State House to set up the necessary program infrastructure to expand universal access to high-quality early learning opportunities across the state. The San Francisco Federal Reserve recognized this bill as one of the most progressive early childhood bills passed out of state legislatures across the country in 2020. In 2022, Representative Woodson worked with other Legislators and community stakeholders to increase teacher compensation for educators across the state.

January 27, 2023

The Hill: The future US economy depends on a new bipartisan education agenda

Can U.S. leaders once again reach across party lines and solve the pressing problems facing Americans?

We believe the answer is an unequivocal “yes”. A good place to start would be with our public education system.

As co-authors and research partners of a new report by a bipartisan group of 20 state legislators and leaders, we contend that the time is now to embrace a new vision of bipartisanship in education. The Time is Now report, produced with the National Conference of State Legislatures, the National Center on Education and the Economy and the Southern Regional Education Board, provides a blueprint for states to build the kind of future-ready education our nation will need to compete in the decades ahead.

The U.S. public education system no longer leads the world—far from it. Our high school graduates on average lag their international peers by multiple years of learning. Our state systems of education are not connected to the world of work to the same degree as those of many nations with which we compete economically. And our shared commitment to a flourishing democracy has been fractured, replaced with divergence and division.

We are convinced there is a better way.

We are convinced the time is now to seize the moment of disruption, ask hard questions, make difficult decisions and put student outcomes first.

We are convinced the time is now for a shared, bipartisan vision in education.

We see that as inclusive of a shared understanding of 1) the kind of economy and society we want to build; 2) the skills, knowledge, and qualities our young people need to thrive in that society; and 3) the education system needed to get them there. As the report makes clear, the world’s best education systems already start from a common vision in this vein. We can do the same by focusing on four key areas.

First, focus on ensuring all teachers and education leaders are supported so they can be effective. That means every classroom has a well-prepared educator who is treated as a professional, with opportunities to grow throughout their careers without having to leave the classroom. Strong leaders, both at the school and district level, foster an environment where students and teachers can flourish and succeed.

Second, develop rigorous and adaptive learning systems. Schooling should be personalized, this can mean proficiency-based learning pathways that empower students to demonstrate their knowledge and skills as they progress through their education. This kind of system allows early career exploration and work-based learning experiences. What’s more, learning is lifelong, so as economic conditions and demands change, workers can re-skill and pursue new opportunities.

Third, be intentional about supporting all learners. This means ensuring that students who require additional learning supports receive them. It also means ensuring students furthest from opportunity have the same opportunity to pursue rewarding work or further education as students attending our best resourced schools. All students should have a pathway to success, regardless of their background or geography.

And fourth, we will need to build an ongoing nonpartisan planning process to set broadly shared goals for prosperity. Circumstances will change and leadership will need to bring all the players in the system together to evolve policy over time to meet those shared goals.

This is not just aspiration and hope. This kind of change is already taking place. In more than a dozen states, we are seeing green shoots of this work emerge.

In Montana, a convening of the state’s offices and agencies with constitutional education authority is asking big questions about the state’s place in a changing global economy. Leaders are looking at what students will need to know in an evolving labor market featuring new technologies and new skill requirements. And they’re analyzing the changes that will be needed in light of all of these factors to ensure all students develop their full educational potential—as mandated by the state constitution.

In Pennsylvania, the state approved a bipartisan measure to create the 2030 Commission on Education and Economic Competitiveness this past summer. Premised on the same blueprint, the commission’s mandate is to set a new vision for education, and begin exploring how the state’s education system should change to better prepare graduates for the jobs of tomorrow.

In states as diverse and varied as Alabama and Hawaii, Mississippi and Minnesota, a new bipartisan vision of education is taking root.

And the urgency of now is real and pressing. Student achievement and wellbeing is at its lowest in decades and disparities are yawning.

The time is now for a renewed commitment to the power of public education. The time is now to build the public education system that will allow today’s graduates and future generations to succeed, our economy to thrive, and our democracy to remain strong.

Llew Jones is a Republican member of the Montana House of Representatives, Justin Woodson is a Democratic member of the Hawaii House of Representatives, and Vicki Phillips is CEO of the National Center on Education and the Economy.

Click here for full article
January 27, 2023

Hawaiʻi Public Radio: Proposed partnership may help address Hawaiʻi teacher shortage

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State House Education Chair Justin Woodson plans to introduce a measure allowing the state to join the Interstate Teaching Mobility Compact. It's a new initiative allowing qualified teachers to transfer to participating states and bypass licensing review barriers. "The concept of the compact has been applied to other licensure programs, such as nursing," said Woodson. Woodson told HPR the compact could benefit Hawaiʻi by allowing more teachers to enter local classrooms in a timely manner. "Our Hawaiʻi Teacher Standards Board has to take a look at the applicant, they have to ascertain as to whether or not there is an equivalency in the teacher license," Woodson said. "All of that takes a considerable amount of time and effort. And so what the compact will afford is that it establishes a baseline equivalency of teacher licensure." Some basic requirements include teachers having a four-year degree and the completion of an approved program within their state. However, further requirements may need to be added. "This particular effort is brand new, and the compact document was actually just released last month," said Woodson. It's so new that Woodson hopes 10 states will kick start the initiative. Woodson's committee is researching legal concerns and teacher qualification standards before proposing a measure in the next legislative session. "There are 737 vacancies in our classrooms across the state. So that is 737 classrooms that at any given time, don't have a qualified teacher in front of our kids," Woodson said. "We want to make sure that we have licensed, qualified teachers in each and every one of our classrooms because all of our kids do deserve that. The compact itself is one tool. It cannot be the only tool."
January 27, 2023

Maui Now: Maui’s Rep. Woodson participates in two-year study aimed at transforming education

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A bipartisan study group of 20 education legislators and legislative staff across the United States, including State House Representative Justin Woodson, has released their findings in a new report which calls on colleagues to act now to rebuild an education system that better meets the needs of every student. The report “The Time is Now: Reimagining World-Class State Education Systems” highlights stagnancy in state education systems across the nation and outlines the struggles students have faced in college and career preparation due to the pandemic. “Our keiki and educators have worked tirelessly to recover from the past few years of disrupted learning,” said Rep. Woodson in a news release. “In meeting with teachers and education legislators across the country, we recognize more needs to be done to support our teachers and to meet the needs of all our students.” The study group that met monthly during 2020-2021 poured over research and heard from international experts about the common policy framework found in the best systems. Together, the group reconfirmed steps states can take immediately to improve their education system which includes: building an inclusive team and setting priorities, studying and learning from top performers, creating a shared statewide vision, benchmarking policies, and investing time in students. "The economies today will shape the global norms of tomorrow. For the United States to stay ahead, we need to maximize all American children’s human potential starting now," said Rep. Woodson. Established by the National Center on Education and the Economy and the Southern Regional Education Board, the 2020-2021 cohort of the Legislative International Education Study Group embarked on a two-year study of the highest-performing education systems throughout the pandemic. Representative Justin Woodson serves House District 9, which includes the areas of Kahului, Puʻunēnē, and portions of Wailuku.
January 27, 2023

The Maui News: Schools and MPD work on preventing tragedies

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If an active shooter were on a Maui school campus, the school resource officer or the responding officer would “go directly to that threat,” and not have to wait for backup, a Maui Police Department sergeant told state lawmakers on Tuesday afternoon. “The general standard practice in law enforcement these days is, we don’t wait. If there is active shooting going on then we are going to go directly to that threat. We are not going to wait for backup necessarily,” said Sgt. Brandon Phillips, who is also a school resource officer. “I say that speaking for Maui, I don’t want to speak on behalf of the other departments, but that is what we are trained to do.” Phillips was discussing active shooter protocols during a briefing of the House Committee on Education, chaired by Maui state Rep. Justin Woodson. The committee held an informational briefing at the state Capitol on Tuesday afternoon to receive updates on safety-related impacts from the state Department of Education and the Hawaii State Public Charter School Commission. Active shooter protocol was one of the topics discussed. “This is an open discussion, we want to make sure that everyone is on the right wavelength to make sure that our kids are safe in all these different facets,” Woodson said during the briefing. DOE Superintendent Keith Hayashi said that according to national data, there were 51 shootings in schools grades K-12 in the U.S. last year, with the second-deadliest school shooting in U.S. history taking place in Uvalde, Texas, where 19 children and two adults died in May. Law enforcement came under fire after the incident as officers waited more than an hour to breach the classroom with the gunman and victims inside. “While we hope never to be faced with this type of unspeakable tragedy, we do have emergency preparedness plans and programs in place to equip our schools to the best of our ability,” Hayashi told lawmakers. “These plans are designed to ensure our schools are prepared to respond to, mitigate and recover to man-made and natural disasters.” When asked by lawmakers if there have been any school shootings in Hawaii, Hayashi said there are none that he or his staff at the briefing knew about, but in 2013 there was an incident in which a firearm was brought to a school campus but was not discharged. Oahu Rep. Scot Matayoshi said he recalled that in 2008 in Nanakuli there was also an incident of a firearm on a school campus, so “it certainly does happen.” Hayashi went over the ways the DOE is trying to mitigate the potential for violent incidents. Last year the DOE held trainings in which more than 1,000 employees were trained to analyze threat assessment and learned behavioral intervention tools to help identity disturbing signals from students and determine when intervention is necessary so students don’t harm themselves or others. There is also regular coordination and communication between DOE and law enforcement agenices, including the FBI, state Department of Public Safety and police departments across the state. Emergency drills are also held at schools, Hayashi said. The DOE also has emergency operation plans at the department, complex and school levels and is also working on assessments of Hawaii’s schools to detect weaknesses and vulnerabilities of safety and security capabilities. Since 2017, 116 schools have had their vulnerability studies done, and currently 17 schools are scheduled for the assessment, Hayashi said. There had been a lag in the assessments due to the COVID-19 pandemic while schools were physically closed. Officials expect all assessments for all public schools to be done in three years. Active shooter training is also available. On Maui, Phillips said MPD, through its resource officers, offers three types of training for potential active shooter scenarios. One is a presentation that looks at other active shooter cases and education on the matter. Another option is the presentation along with drills, where staff can practice what to do in a lockdown and how to defend themselves. Another option is also having a “full-on exercise” in addition to the education, with officers role playing as intruders and as the responding law enforcement agency. He said none of the training is done with students, nor do they intend to do so. But police would like to have age-appropriate conversations with students, especially high school students, on what to do in case they end up in a vulnerable situation. As a parent, Phillips said he advocates for active shooter preparedness, as he would want his child’s teachers and administration to know what to do in an emergency. He said he had an age-appropriate conversation with his elementary school-aged son, who now knows what to do and how to get home in case of an emergency threat. Phillips said MPD currently has eight school resource officers on various campuses, mainly high schools. There are 12 authorized positions, but with the labor shortage they are unable to fill them all. The SRO program began in 1999 with federal funding, but now it is funded by the Maui Police Department. The officers serve as educators, counselors and mentors and are also the ones who are on campus to respond to and prevent incidents from happening. Phillips said SROs are also the ones to respond to the “text a tip” program, in which tips can be texted to a generated number from Google and then sent to the school resource officer, principal and vice principal. Tips could range from students vaping to someone having a gun in a bathroom. Phillips said this is only available in schools with an SRO, which is the one that responds to the messages. Hayashi said that Kauai County and Hawaii County also have school resource officers, but Oahu does not. He noted that all schools have security attendants but the DOE is also having a hard time filling all the positions. Overall, Hayashi said the number of school threats has been increasing, from 103 in 2019, to a low of 47 in 2020 during the height of the COVID pandemic when students were out of school, to 124 in 2021 and 152 in 2022. The threats include vague social media and graffiti threats, emails, phone calls or fax, threats with targets and TikTok challenges.
January 27, 2023

Maui Now: Statewide plan unveiled for universal preschool, 80 new classrooms by next year

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Hawai'i Lieutenant Governor Sylvia Luke during a news conference today announced a plan for universal preschool where 80 new classrooms statewide would be ready by next year. "The data is crystal clear: Those who attend a high-quality early learning (city) are more likely to succeed in primary school and beyond,” Maui Rep. Justin Woodson, state House education chairperson, said during the O’ahu news conference. "This leads to healthier communities." O’ahu Sen. Michelle N. Kidani, state Senate education chairperson, said many young families leave the islands because they can’t afford to have their children in preschool or daycare. Luke said the cost of a classroom is about $170,000. If the state can build out all 80 classrooms by next August, it will cost about $40 million. Ready Keiki, a public-private partnership led by Luke, would eventually have 465 Pre-K classrooms for 3- and 4-year-old students by year 2032, with 20 pupils per class. State leaders touted the project as one that will prepare children for educational success, while saving money for families who need their kids to have a safe space during working hours. Eventually, though, the goal is to have 465 preschool classrooms by 2032. Ready Keiki classrooms would take shape in a variety of different forms, according to program information. More than 60 new preschool classrooms would be included on existing state Department of Education school campuses; 30 new classrooms could be created at charter schools; Preschool Open Doors expansion could add around 1,400 additional seats to existing private providers; and preschool classrooms would be added to state libraries, University of Hawai'i campuses and public-private land purchases. Act 46 in 2020 established the goal to provide all keiki ages 3 to 4 with access to Pre-K enrollment by 2032. Act 257 in 2022 appropriated $200 million to expand access to Pre-K by building new school facilities and renovating existing ones to increase preschool capacity. Also, the state would request $40 million to expand the federal program, Preschool Open Doors, to include 3-year-olds and increase the subsidy per child. The state-administered program serves more than 750 children statewide by providing subsidies to eligible families to help pay preschool tuition.
July 25, 2022

Maui Now: State legislature passes bill with $200 million for expanding preschool access

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The Hawaiʻi State Legislature passed six bills that invest $220 million in education, with $200 million appropriated for the goal of expanding preschool access to all 3- and 4-year olds by 2032.

The $220 million is in addition to the $2.4 billion in the Department of Education’s most recent budget. The bills were sent to Gov. David Ige for his consideration.

The biggest chunk of the additional funding is for the education portion of HB 2000. It appropriates $200 million to the School Facilities Authority to expand access to pre-kindergarten for eligible children. The funds may be used to construct new school facilities; renovate, improve and expand existing school facilities to increase pre-kindergarten student capacity; and any other costs to increase pre-kindergarten student capacity within the state.

In 2020, the legislature passed Act 46, which created a goal to expand preschool access to all 3- and 4-year olds by 2032. But there were two issues with meeting that goal: lack of preschool facilities and lack of a qualified workforce.

"Making big change such as providing preschool access for 3- and 4-year old keiki takes time," said Rep. Justin Woodson, Chair of the House Committee on Education. "Last year, we adopted HB 1362 to create a stipend program for UH students to become early childhood educators. This year, HB 2000 provides an appropriation of $200 million to create appropriate spaces for these keiki to learn effectively. This investment lays the foundation for Hawaii’s children to succeed."

The other 2022 bills the legislature passed that provide additional educational funding:

• SB 2821. Relating to menstrual equality, it requires the Department of Education to provide menstrual products free of charge to all students on all public school campuses. Chronic absenteeism is one of the most powerful predictors of student success or failure. It is a priority for Hawaiʻi public schools to minimize or eliminate chronic absenteeism. The inability to adequately manage menstruation, specifically the lack of access to menstrual products in schools, limits full participation in school, contributes to higher rates of school absenteeism and missed activities, and negatively impacts a student’s ability to learn. The 2021 study of the Hawaii State Commission on the Status of Women and Mai Movement Hawaiʻi reported that 42% of respondents missed class or left school because the respondents did not have access to menstrual products, and nearly 22% of respondents missed school entirely. Of those who missed school entirely, nearly 12% missed three to five school days, and 6% missed six to 10 school days in an academic year.

• SB 2826: Relating to Education, it appropriates $2.6 million to establish a career development success program to provide financial incentives for participating public high schools and public charter schools to encourage students in grades 9 through 12 to enroll in and successfully complete qualified industry-credential programs. This bill will help fill shortages of qualified credentialed workers in various sectors, including health, education, air travel, agriculture and technology. In the current job market, 65% of available positions require post-secondary credentials. Full-time employees with industry credentials earn more than their un-credentialed counterparts.

• SB 2184, Relating to digital learning, it appropriates $7 million to create and staff the digital learning center. The COVID-19 pandemic challenged the Department of Education to adopted digital learning, which has the potential to promote equitable delivery of high-quality educational offerings to students across the state.

• SB 2862: Relating to Education, it appropriates an additional $10 million to provide air conditioning for schools. The legislature initially invested $100 million in heat abatement upgrades in 2016 (Act 47). This resulted in more than 1,300 public classrooms being cooled. More than 5,000 classrooms still require heat abatement improvements.

• SB 2819: Relating to Teacher Compensation, it will assist with recruitment and retention of teachers by fixing inequities in the salary schedules.
April 20, 2021

Maui Now: Rep. Woodson Congratulates Hawai'i's Executive Office on Early Learning on National Recognition

Hawai'i's Executive Office on Early Learning Public Prekindergarten Program has been recognized for meeting all 10 of the quality standard benchmarks identified by the National Institute for Early Education Research.

The national ranking for these benchmarks is part of NIEER's annual State Preschool Yearbook that it released this morning. The 10 standards serve as indicators of what is required to establish a high-quality public preschool program. Hawai'i is one of only five states to meet all 10 benchmarks.

Over the last several years, EOEL has worked with the State Legislature to establish the EOEL Public Prekindergarten Program as well as dedicate funding to building out the program on more campuses.

"It is a great honor to be recognized as one of the top performing prekindergarten systems in the country," said Representative Justin Woodson (D-9, Kahului, Pu‘unēnē, Old Sand Hills, Maui Lani), Chair of the House Committee on Education. "Over the past couple of years, we made great strides to expand access to high-quality early learning opportunities, and we will continue to prioritize Hawai‘i’s keiki and provide them with the proper foundation to foster conducive learning.”

"We're incredibly proud of the EOEL Public Prekindergarten Program, which is still in its infancy, having been established in 2015. Achieving 10 out of 10 quality standard benchmarks within a fairly short period of time is a testament to the partnerships we’ve built – with Department of Education schools and educators, with the State Legislature, and more,” said EOEL Director Lauren Moriguchi. "Attaining these benchmarks signifies that the foundation we’ve built is solid. With a solid foundation, we know that our educators, families and, most importantly, students are supported. This is especially relevant as the early childhood community looks to fulfill the State Legislature’s vision for expanded access to early learning opportunities," she said. Click here for full article

The full State Preschool Yearbook is available online here https://nieer.org.
September 16, 2020

Maui Now: Rep. Woodson's Child Care Bill Recognized Nationally



Rep. Woodson's Child Care Bill Recognized Nationally November 13, 2020, 12:16 PM HST · Updated November 13, 12:23 PM 0 Comments

The Federal Reserve Bank of San Francisco and the Low Income Investment Fund recently hosted an online panel conversation to discuss Integrating Child Care into Housing and Community Facilities.

The panel spotlighted passage of HB2543 HD1 SD2 (Act 46) that was described by participants as "the most progressive early childhood bill to be passed during COVID19."

Kerrie Urosevich, the Lead for Network Design and Innovation at Hawai'i's Early Childhood Action Strategy was one of the guest speakers during the webinar and said in an email following the event that, "We are deeply grateful for Rep. Woodson’s leadership on this bill."

Rep. Justin H. Woodson (D-9, Kahului, Pu‘unēnē, Old Sand Hills, Maui Lani), Chair of the House Education Committee, said families with young children desperately need more early learning choices. SPONSORED VIDEO

"I am very thankful for the support of the Federal Reserve Bank of San Francisco, the Low Income Investment Fund, and Dr. Kerrie Urosevich for her valuable input on the proposal," said Rep. Woodson. "It is my hope that Act 46 will help expand high quality early learning opportunities across the state as expeditiously as is humanly possible. The need is great."

The Oct. 22 discussion included about 189 leaders from across the nation from business, philanthropy, early care and learning, housing and social services sectors.

In this webinar, guest speakers discussed how communities can work with developers and other stakeholders in innovative efforts to co-locate childcare facilities within larger development projects to promote livable neighborhoods.

Urosevich said she was asked to share information about the process of getting the bill passed, the impacts of COVID19 on Hawai'i's early childcare programs, and plans for the bill’s implementation.

"Given the focus of the panel, I shared specifically about the use of public or state-owned facilities for child care [including] libraries, the Imiloa astronomy center, the Convention Center, and Aloha Stadium," she said in her email.

House Bill 2543 (Act 46) was part of the 2020 joint House-Senate legislative package to address the economic challenges facing Hawai'i's working-class families by increasing wages and tax benefits, investing in child care, and accelerating the building of more affordable housing units.

With the onset of the COVID-19 pandemic in March 2020, advancement of these bills were paused. At the adjournment of the unprecedented 2020 session in July 2020, House Bill 2543 was one of only 76 bills to be enacted into law. House Bill 2543 (Act 46) establishes the goal of providing access to early learning by 2032 to all children who are 3 to 4 years old.

The law also expands the Preschool Open Doors Program to provide grants for establishing new private preschools and expanding existing private preschools and authorizes the Hawaiʻi State Public Library System to establish early learning classrooms at libraries.

Click here to view the full webinar.


June 10, 2020

Maui Now: Maui County's Share of CIP Funds is More Than $533 Million

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More than $533 million was set aside for Capital Improvement Projects on Maui, Lana'i and Moloka'i as part of the $5.1 billion CIP budget bill passed by the state legislature on May 21 for Fiscal Years 2020 and 2021.

"A major focus of this year has been to continue investing in the aging infrastructure of our schools. One of the top priorities for Baldwin High School has been obtaining their own locker room, weight room, and dance facility on-campus so they can vacate county facilities," said Representative Troy Hashimoto. "The funds have been secured for both the planning and construction and I hope to see it completed in the near future."

HB 2725 HD1 SD1 provides funds for Capital Improvement Projects including many "shovel ready" construction projects that can begin work quickly providing much needed jobs to help resuscitate our struggling economy due to the coronavirus.

"Very happy we were able to sharpen our pencils and fund these important projects. Many of these projects like the $9 million for infrastructure to build the next phase of Villages of Leali'i and the $7.6 million for Lahainaluna Campus, will improve our quality of life will help kick start our economy as well," said Representative Angus L. K. McKelvey. SPONSORED VIDEO

House Lower and Higher Education Chair Justin H. Woodson said a top CIP project is the $3 million set aside to plan and design a much needed new middle school in central Maui.

"In this time of financial crisis Capital Improvement Projects are critical to help spur our local economy. This is a perfect time to make much needed renovations, repairs and major maintenance to existing facilities," said Woodson.

Maui County projects include renovations, repairs, and major maintenance to existing facilities, landscape improvements, new construction, land acquisition, and utility modifications.
June 3, 2020

Civil Beat: Lawmakers, Union Officials Are Pushing Back Against State Pay Cuts

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Although Gov. David Ige has not made a decision yet to impose furloughs on state workers, some of Hawaii's public workers unions are intent on killing the proposal before it ever gets going.

In the past week, Ige has met privately with those union leaders as well as House Speaker Scott Saiki and Senate President Ron Kouchi to discuss a possible 20% pay cut for workers in the state.

Lawmakers along with heads of the Hawaii Government Employees Association and the Hawaii State Teachers Association joined a growing chorus of public workers in the state calling on Ige to look to other areas of the state budget before cutting workers' pay.

"Although Governor Ige has the unilateral authority to impose furloughs and salary cuts, we do not agree with such action," Saiki and Kouchi said in a statement. "We urge the Governor to obtain better data and analysis before he makes this decision." Masked Governor David Ige during COVID19 press conference held at the Capitol. April 8, 2020.

Gov. David Ige won't implement pay cuts yet, and Hawaii's public workers unions want to make sure he never does.

Cory Lum/Civil Beat

Ige said those cuts won't come yet, and that he is exploring other options - although he provided almost no details on what those options might be in a press conference Wednesday.

He also announced that he and his cabinet would also take pay cuts if furloughs are imposed on state workers.

The state is projecting hundreds of millions of dollars in lost tax revenue as a result of the tourism downturn. Ige said Wednesday that the state may need to shave $1.5 billion off the state's $16 billion budget over the next six months.

But it still has other options to save money. And in December, state officials reported a carryover balance of over $600 million from last fiscal year.

Hawaii is poised to receive nearly $10 million in a federal bailout through the CARES Act to support education during the coronavirus crisis.

Although Saiki and Kouchi oppose the pay cuts, they said the Legislature will still work with Ige on balancing the budget.

"Although we disagree with Governor Ige’s proposal, the Legislature will work with him to assess and pursue all options," they said in a written statement. Money Committees Eyeing Cuts

State lawmakers were already looking for places to save money once the pandemic struck.

"I think we need to exhaust other options first," Senate Ways and Means Chair Donovan Dela Cruz said Wednesday. "Cut some of those programs that are no longer useful."

Dela Cruz said the state could also look to tap certain special funds that have accrued over the years. He also suggested Ige wait for federal money earmarked for helping states to come in.

Lawmakers were considering eliminating certain tax credits that go unused to free up some funds.

Dela Cruz said he hopes the governor takes this as an opportunity to change the way the government does business. With both public and private sector employees working from home, Dela Cruz said it may be time for the state to consider telework options, which could save money on facility use.

"There's got to be a way where, when we reopen government, we reopen it in a much more efficient way to provide public service," he said. Finance Chair Sylvia Luke and Donovan Dela Cruz Look on during county Mayors reports.

Sen. Donovan Dela Cruz and Rep. Sylvia Luke also want Ige to look at other options before furloughing employees.

Cory Lum/Civil Beat

House Finance Chair Sylvia Luke said neither she nor Dela Cruz were consulted before Ige came up with the furlough proposal. Luke noted that the state has $391 million in its rainy day fund.

"I think we need to proceed cautiously," Luke said. "There are unemployment issues, record number of job losses. UI, NAP, Medquest claims. If there's any time to dip into the rainy day this would be it."

HGEA Director Randy Perreira also urged Ige to look for other places to find money or cut the budget before jumping straight to furloughs.

In a letter to the governor on Tuesday, Perreira suggested looking at money that has been budgeted for vacant positions that are still unfilled.

Perreira asked that the state forego payments to the Hawaii Employee Retirement System, and the Employee Union Health Benefit Trust Fund. On Wednesday, Ige didn't commit to that option when asked but said he is exploring multiple options to save money.

Ige said that $868 million in federal CARES Act funding coming to Hawaii can't be used for existing government operations, or to cover pay.

The HSTA is also coming out strongly against the cuts.

A 20% salary cut for a DOE teacher would mean a reduction of $600 to $1,800 in monthly income for educators, according to HSTA. The average teacher pay in Hawaii is $65,000.

HSTA President Corey Rosenlee said a 20% reduction in teacher salaries instituted across the board would result in cost savings of roughly $80 million a month. But funding is still pending from the federal stimulus package and with the state's surplus and rainy day funds, any salary reduction is premature, he said.

"If we cut teacher salaries it will force teachers to retire and our new teachers to leave. We cannot open our schools if we don't have enough teachers," he said. Few Details Available

In a video conference call with reporters Wednesday, Rosenlee said he had few details on the proposed cuts to members.

"We have not been given anything written as a proposal, whether a salary cut or a furlough. They did say they would talk to us more some," he said.

HSTA Executive Director Wilbert Holck met with the governor's representatives Tuesday, Rosenlee said, adding the proposed cuts were “not a suggestion.”

The HSTA represents roughly 13,700 teachers and counselors statewide.

HSTA members would not be the only DOE employees affected by the proposed cuts. HGEA, the state’s largest state worker union, represents roughly 2,700 education assistants who serve as staff support to teachers as well as other DOE personnel like administrators and principals.

Rosenlee first sounded the alarm in a letter email blast circulated to teachers late Tuesday night, in which he said Hawaii's public sector unions had "received ominous news" from the Ige administration.

The letter communicated the governor’s intention to implement a 20% salary cut for most public sector employees including teachers, and a 10% cut for first responders like nurses, police officers and firefighters.

"This is unacceptable," Rosenlee said in the letter, a copy of which was provided to Civil Beat. "We believe cutting salaries for tens of thousands of state workers is rash and will hurt our state even more."

The state is already contending with a teacher shortage. Starting this year, the DOE began offering pay differentials to the hardest to retain teachers: those in special education, Hawaiian immersion and who are based in remote, rural areas. HSTA President Corey Rosenlee at DOE presser announcing pay increases for special needs and Hawaiian language teachers.

HSTA President Corey Rosenlee is urging Gov. David Ige to reconsider any pay cuts or teacher furloughs.

Cory Lum/Civil Beat

The pay bumps, which ranged from an additional $3,000 to $10,000 yearly, will be untouched the rest of this school year, given they were budgeted into the DOE's current fiscal year budget, which ends June 30, said Board of Education chairwoman Catherine Payne.

DOE officials had been lobbying for additional legislative funding to continue those pay differentials into the 2020-21 school year and beyond before session was abruptly cut short due to coronavirus.

"We're not anticipating any change through the end of the school year for our teachers — they're still working, they're just working in a different way," said Payne.

During Thursday's HSTA call, several educators spoke about how a pay cut could devastate their futures. Dana Shishido, a third grade teacher at Wheeler Elementary and 30-year DOE veteran, said she would consider an early retirement.

Jodi Kunimitsu, a math teacher at Maui High, said the difference in the pay cut for her would be equivalent to the cost of her son’s childcare.

"It always seems the budget is trying to be balanced on the backs of the most essential workers," she said.

The last time the state imposed furloughs was during the 2009 economic crisis. Then-Gov. Linda Lingle imposed 24 Furlough Fridays for state workers starting June 2009, including 17 days of Furlough Fridays for DOE teachers which lasted nearly an entire school year, from October 2009 to May 2010.

Lawmakers who work on education issues are also concerned about cuts to teacher and staff pay.

House Rep. Amy Perruso, a teacher at Mililani High who represents Wahiawa, said this move was "really premature" and reflected "unbelievably poor leadership."

"It's just ridiculous, unless their intention is to actually gut state government," she said. "I don’t think they really have a sense of what our financial situation will look like. We haven't seen all those monies flow into state coffers yet."

Rep. Justin Woodson, chair of the House Lower and Higher Education committee, said there had been informal conversations in the Legislature on mitigation to deal with a potentially double-digit percent loss in state revenue due to the economic hit. One of those tools included furloughs, he said.

"We should attempt to look for other avenues before cutting pay," he said. "Education shouldn't be looked at as a first option."

March 9, 2020

Maui Now: Joint Economic Package Seeks to Benefit Maui County Working Families



Link to MauiNow article

Maui's working families could see benefits in affordable housing, expanded child care, and tax relief from a joint House and Senate package of economic bills being introduced during the 2020 Legislative Session.

House Lower & Higher Education Committee Chair Justin H. Woodson said the bill package could change the lives of many of Maui's working families for generations to come.

"These measure focus on increasing wages and providing tax benefits, investing in child care and early learning, and creating more affordable housing units. Taken together this will increase economic stability and expand the middle class," said Representative Woodson.

Woodson said that the joint legislative bill package is in response to the issues highlighted in the Aloha United Way sponsored report, "ALICE: A Study of Financial Hardship in Hawaii."

The ALICE (Asset Limited, Income Constrained, Employed) report describes the economic hardships facing many working individuals and families in Hawai?i. According to the report, after allocating monies to pay for expenses such as housing, child care, food, taxes, health care, and transportation, a family of four needs to earn roughly $77,000 a year simply to survive.

This is the first time since 2004 that a joint House and Senate legislative bill package has been introduced at the start of a session. The package also has the strong backing of the Governor and several community advocate groups.

"Being at the community level, I see it every day how people from all walks of life are just hardly making ends meet. Living paycheck to paycheck not affording housing and when someone in the family is ill it just puts limitations on the family budget and they are unable to put food on the table," said Cesar Gaxiola, Executive Director of the J. Walter Cameron Center. "In the last few years, I have seen so many of the younger generation moved to the mainland since salaries here are not enough to cover their education nor their living expenses. I am glad to see our State officials, legislature, private sector and nonprofits in alliance to effectively deal with the circumstances and find a compromise to abet our communities."

"I join with my Maui Senate colleagues in strong support of a holistic approach to assisting the working poor," said Senator Rosalyn Baker (South and West Maui). "Many of these families are headed by women and apt to be in low-wage jobs. Enacting a refundable earned income tax credit, coupled with an increase in the minimum wage, will be more impactful for these single-parent households. In addition, providing greater access to public pre-school will not only give their children a learning head start, but also a home budget savings in providing childcare. This approach will be both cost effective for the State in the long run and beneficial to families as well."

The economic package includes: -Targeting tax relief for working class families and individuals,
-Increasing the minimum wage to $13 an hour by 2024,
-Providing $75 million in General Obligation Bonds for the neighbor island counties to defray affordable housing infrastructure costs,
-Providing tax exemptions for developers to build market priced homes,
-Expanding childcare options for parents to all university sites statewide and in rural areas with limited childcare options,
-Creating a new Schools Facilities Agency and allow DOE to focus on education.
-Reducing Income Inequality

To put money back into the pockets of residents, one measure will provide tax relief for working families by making the Earned Income Tax Credit (EITC) refundable and permanent. That means qualified families can get a cash refund of up to $380 through this tax credit.

According to the ALICE report, minimum wage is not nearly enough to live on. This package includes a bill that will provide incremental increases in the minimum wage bringing it to $13 an hour by 2024.

"I support the strategy of addressing the challenges of our working poor in a holistic way. Our working poor-many of them single-parent households-need help with Hawaii's high cost of living and housing. It makes sense to provide income relief with a hike in the minimum wage and making the Earned Income Tax Credit refundable, but one of the biggest costs faced by them is childcare," said Senator Gilbert Keith-Agaran (Wailuku, Waihe'e, Kahului). "So, accelerating public pre-school availability is a way to address child care. Finally, to get serious with getting homes built, the State and the Counties need to streamline the process for projects that are providing housing for local residents and for the State to invest in infrastructure that will reduce the costs of building those homes."

Increasing Affordable Housing Many in Hawai?i cannot afford to buy a home, especially when they have to compete with outside investors with deep pockets. To address this issue, the state will identify publicly-owned properties that can be used to develop 99-year leasehold units. Half of those homes will be reserved for working-class families earning 140 percent of the area median income (AMI).

The state will also invest $75 million in General Obligation Bonds on the neighbor islands to defray affordable housing infrastructure costs and offer a General Excise Tax exemption for projects that meet the goal of 140% AMI or below.

"This funding will directly benefit Maui residents by helping to pay for the infrastructure - the roads, sewers, utility lines - that developers need to build affordable housing," said Representative Troy N. Hashimoto (Kahakuloa, Waihe'e, Waiehu, Pu'uohala, Wailuku, Waikapu). "Our residents need affordable homes."

"This is especially important for Maui residents," said Rep. Angus L.K. McKelvey (West Maui, Ma'alaea, North Kihei). "We do not have enough homes for working families and those available or too expensive or too small. I'm happy that the legislature is taking up these issues this session."

Access to Learning for all 3- and 4-year-olds Many families are forced to forgo child care and early learning for their children and those who do budget for child care spend about one-third of their incomes on it.

To solve this problem, this package contains a bill to create a public-private model to increase the capacity at existing private childcare facilities supported with public funds and also develop new facilities for early learning programs for 3- and 4-year-old children where they are needed.

State-owned sites in rural areas and on all the university campuses will provide space to expand the number of early learning centers.

"It is well known that students that have the benefit of early learning do better when they enter school," said Education Chair Woodson. "All parents want what is best for their children and this proposal will help give them a better education."

Building Educational Results In order to allow the Department of Education to focus on its primary purpose of teaching our children, the legislature proposes to create a new Schools Facilities Agency to oversee major construction and repair projects in our schools.

The Governor will appoint an executive director for the new agency which will be responsible for all public school construction except for repair and maintenance projects that cost $100,000 or less. "This proposal will allow the DOE to focus on teaching our children rather than construction and repair projects," said Rep. Kyle T. Yamashita (Spreckelsville, Pukalani, Makawao, Kula, Keokea, Ulupalakua, Kahului). "This will be a great benefit for our students, parents, and teachers "

"It's a matter of letting the DOE focus on their primary mission for providing our students with the best education possible," said Rep. Lynn DeCoite (Ha'iku, Hana, Kaupo, Kipahulu, Nahiku, Pa'ia, Kaho'olawe, Lana'i, Moloka'i, Molokini).


March 9, 2020

Hawaiʻi Public Radio: Early Education To Expand But Lawmakers Grapple With What That Means



Link to article

State lawmakers have recognized the need for affordable child care in the state, so much so that they've made it a part of a joint-legislative package negotiated by the governor and House and Senate leaders.

But a divide is emerging between those who want flexibility in qualifying child care or early learning teachers and those who say instructors must be well-trained in early childhood. And teacher qualifications impact the level of care and learning that could be provided in an expanded system.

A 2017 study by the University of Hawaii's Center on the Family found the demand for child care in the state greatly exceeded the supply. Although 64% of children need care because their parents work, state Department of Human Service-regulated child care providers can only take in 25% of that group.

One of the major initiatives of the joint package is Senate Bill 3101 that aims to expand parents' options for early learning opportunities for children between 3- and 4-years-old. The measure calls for moving the Executive Office of Early Learning, which currently operates Hawaii's public preschool program within the Department of Education, to the Department of Human Services. It would also rename the office to the "Learning to Grow Agency."

House Finance Chair Sylvia Luke is one of the backers of the bill. She explains that in order to expand early learning in the state, there must be collaboration with the private sector -- something she says the Department of Education cannot carry out.

"About 20,000 kids every year, 3- and 4-year-olds do not have access to any type of preschools, child care or early education opportunities . . . number one because of finances and number two because it's not available in that area," she said. "Part of it was really about providing child care and learning opportunities for children so that it helps working families go back to work."

Luke envisions the early learning initiative as building off existing programs in the Department of Human Services, such as one that verifies early childhood workers meet the education and experience requirements for licensing child care centers.

The bill would establish a state goal of providing access to early learning programs to all 3- to 4-year-old children. In 2018, the National Institute for Early Education Research reported that only about 6% of the state's three-year-olds and 7% of four-year-olds were enrolled in Hawaii's public preschools.

Under current state law, the Executive Office of Early Learning is responsible for children from prenatal care to their entry into kindergarten. The proposal would limit the agency's jurisdiction to only 3- and 4-year-olds.

State Rep. Justin Woodson, who chairs the House Lower and Higher Education Committee and supports the bill, said although the agency's focus would be narrowed, it would still be the state's long-term goal to offer more programs for younger children.

"There seems to be a synergy within the community, a desire to want to concentrate on that particular age bracket first," he said. "We can only build out so much within a certain amount of time. So that's why the concentration is on 3- and 4-year-olds right now."

During the rollout of the joint-legislative package, Woodson said the goal is to build 100 new classrooms a year over the next decade. He said that these classrooms would not necessarily be defined as preschools.

"It's important to note that this new proposal, the idea is to provide early learning opportunities," he said. "That can be anything from a public pre-kindergarten classroom ... to daycare to also private sector preschool or pre-kindergarten classrooms. The idea is to offer families a whole menu of offerings and that way families can choose what is best for their children."

While excited about the expansion of early learning opportunities, Robyn Chun, director of the University of Hawaii-Manoa Graduate Early Childhood Education Programs, worries about how the initiative might be carried out.

"I think there are two big challenges to expansion. One is facilities, of course," she said. "But the real big question that I constantly come back to with all this legislation is: what is the infrastructure for the workforce?"

In other words, who will teach the children? There's already a shortage of preschool teachers, who must meet strict qualifying standards while earning less than instructors in K-12 grades.

To be a teacher in the current public preschool program, an instructor must complete a bachelor's degree and coursework in early childhood education and meet the Hawaii teacher standards board licensing requirements for a pre-kindergarten teacher.

According to the Hawaii State Teachers Association, there are 500 licensed preschool teachers within the Department of Education, but only a few are actually teaching preschool, likely because they can earn more in higher grades.

Luke said the requirement of having a four-year-degree in early learning may be making it unnecessarily difficult for other professionals, such as retirees who want to return to teaching, to staff preschool classrooms.

"I don't think it's right that we put up those barriers and require an early education degree," she said. "Why would they go for four years and get an early learning degree when they can get a regular education degree and be a special education teacher and then get paid way more?"

She said that is why the bill is written broadly - allowing DHS to coordinate with the private sector to employ teachers who may not necessarily match existing standards for public preschool.

"I don't think we should be concentrating on categorizing what is a preschool and what's not a preschool, what's child care," Luke said. "We're very careful and respectful of the private providers. What we want to concentrate on is providing access to learning for a lot of these kids."

However, Chun said there are key differences in early learning training compared to that for K-12 education. Early learning coursework covers such subjects as child development in social-emotional communication and working with families in the community.

The qualification of teachers affects the level of care that would provided in additional early learning classrooms.

"[Child] care is built around the assumption of providing basic health and safety. . . that's a baseline. I think we have to ask the question whether that's enough, particularly when you're talking about vulnerable families, families in stress," Chun said.

"That takes some knowledge and understanding, and early childhood is a field where the research is interdisciplinary. It's crossing over into knowledge of families and, almost like social work, social support and a network of understanding of child development," she said.

Rep. Woodson noted that although the bill is looking to expand the early learning program, he is not in favor of dismantling public preschools and agrees with Chun that early learning coursework is important.

"The public pre-K program, that will not change, that will not be altered ... we're going to continue to expand our public pre-K program. That is the intention," he said.

"But we're going to offer other early learning opportunities. And these are for families that want their children to be in some sort of early learning setting, but don't right now have that opportunity."

Chun thinks that there needs to be more investment in training early education teachers and growing the field. She said UH has doubled the number of students graduating with early education degrees, but with the same number of faculty.

"If we want to build this, we need to invest in the infrastructure to build this," she said. "The states that are more successful in both expanding out and maintaining that high level . . . are states that have done their homework and put effort into the development so that they can sustain their program over time."

Lawmakers are expected to hear S.B. 3101 in committee sometime in February.

March 9, 2020

Maui Now: Access to Learning Bill Moves Forward in the House

Link to Maui News

The House Committee on Lower & Higher Education and the House Finance Committee today amended and passed HB2543 HD1 to expand early learning opportunities for 3 and 4 year old children across the state.

The bill now moves to the full House for a vote.

"Over the course of the last year we have been working on this bill as a cost of living measure to address the lack of available early learning centers across the state," Rep. Justin H. Woodson said in a press release.

"Today we are making several amendments and adjustments to this bill, and I want to thank everyone who has worked so hard to pass this measure because it will greatly benefit our keiki and our working families."

Below is a list of requirements that the bill would mandate:
-The bill requires the parents or guardians of public school kindergarten students to the disclose information on the child's prior child care program or prekindergarten attendance, if any, for the purpose of determining areas with the highest need for prekindergarten and child care programs.
-It requires the Department of Education to assess kindergarten students, establishes the preschool open doors trust fund and requires annual reporting.
-It expands Preschool Open Doors Program eligibility from 4-year-old children to all children who are 3 to 4 years old or will not be at least five years old on or before July 31 of the current school year.
-It requires annual reporting regarding the revenues and expenditures of the early learning special fund and establishes a program for Department of Human Services to award grants for preschools.
-The bill appropriates funds and authorizes positions for the preschool open doors program, appropriates funds for the Department of Human Services to expand its information technology system for the purpose of managing information on prekindergarten attendance and child care need and to contract for and operate preschool and child care programs.
-It establishes an Early Learning Coordinator position within the Executive Office on Early Learning.
-It also establishes the goal of providing all children who are 3 to 4 years old, or will not be at least five years old on or before July 31 of the current school year, with enrollment in a preschool program by the year 2030 and assigns that responsibility to the Early Learning Coordinator.
-The bill appropriates funds to the 'Imiloa Astronomy Center for building classrooms for Hawaiian language immersion pre-kindergarten programs and appropriates funds for building early learning services classrooms on public library property.

This early education bill is part of a joint economic package introduced by the House and Senate, and supported by the Ige Administration to address Hawaii's cost of living obstacles.

The joint working class economic package is designed to tackle the issues highlighted in the Aloha United Way sponsored report,"ALICE: A Study of Financial Hardship in Hawaii."

Rep. Sylvia Luke noted that among more than 100 pages of testimony only two testifiers did not support the bills.

"This bill provides an overlay of our vision that within 10 years to provide all children with access to early learning," Luke said.

"It's not as easy as people think it is. It's about providing full access and the ability of working families to have their child ready to learn when they enter kindergarten. This is a huge task and we have relied on you folks for your thoughtful advice and support to get this bill where it is today."

Business, community and nonprofit educational groups have been adamant in their support for this measure.

"As a network of partners that support the health, safety and learning of our youngest keiki, we are excited about the potential expansion of child care and early learning programs for three and four-year olds," said Kerrie Urosevich, Lead for Network Design and Innovation at Hawai`i Early Childhood Action Strategy.

"Over several decades, early childhood partners have worked diligently to elevate the importance of access to affordable and high-quality child care and early learning opportunities, which strengthen family income and support early cognitive, physical and social development. We are deeply grateful for the proposed financial commitments by the legislature, philanthropy and business sectors to make it happen. The implementation of this 10-year vision will only be successful if we leverage the early childhood eco-system together, with leaders from programs, philanthropy, business, the legislature, state departments and families themselves. There is no more important job than the one that builds the brains and hearts of our youngest in our society. Creating viable plans that will ensure early childhood providers are able to make a living wage in Hawai'i is imperative for the success of the expansion and should be prioritized. The economic stimulus package, of which HB2543 is a part, would begin to put families on the path toward economic stability and begin to create the needed foundations for young keiki and families to thrive."
April 17, 2019

Big Island Now: Legislature Provides $2.3M in Support for Community College Students



Access the Article Here

In recent years, paying for a college education has become too expensive for many people, and students who are at an economic disadvantage are disproportionately affected. To offset costs for tuition and basic needs, state lawmakers have passed two bills appropriating more than $2.3 million in state funds to help our young people achieve their dream of a college degree.
The first bill is SB316 SD2 HD2 - Hawaii Community College Promise Program.

This bill provides $1.4 million ($700,000 for each of the next two fiscal years) to cover community college tuition for eligible students once all other federal aid and public and private scholarships are exhausted. The bill also requires the University of Hawaii to collect data on how well the Promise Program directly increases the likelihood that a recipient attends college and completes a degree program.

Rep. Justin H. Woodson (Kahului, Pu'unene, Old Sand Hills, Maui Lani), Chair of the House Lower & Higher Education Committee, said the Hawai'i Promise Program has helped more than 1,500 community college students since it began in 2017.

"The Legislature wants to ensure that as much of these funds as possible go to students who may not otherwise have attended college, and that the scholarship is effective in helping students complete a degree program," said Rep. Woodson. "If you want to invest in yourself, then we at the Legislature want to invest in you."

The second bill is SB50 SD2 HD1 - Hawai'i Nutrition Employment and Training Program (HINET).
This bill appropriates $910,000 ($455,000 for each of the next two fiscal years) to continue the HINET program and hire seven full-time instructional and student support positions. HINET is a workforce and education training program offered to students who receive or are eligible for Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program benefits and are enrolled at least part-time at a UH community college in an approved program. HINET helps students cover the cost of food, transportation, books, and necessary tools. HINET staff work with students one-on-one to address their needs and goals, and match them with training.

Sen. Donna Mercado Kim (Kapalama, 'Alewa, Kalihi Valley, Ft. Shafter, Moanalua Gardens & Valley, portions of Halawa and 'Aiea) said the HINET program began in 2015 and is a partnership between the state Department of Human Services and the University of Hawaii's community colleges.

"These bills attest to the Legislature's focus on education and the future by not only helping our students with their tuition, but by helping them not have to worry if they are going to be able to feed themselves, if they are going to be able to afford their textbooks, and how they are going to get to campus on time," said Kim, chair of the Senate Higher Education Committee. "These two measures work together to bring support the whole student so they can be successful in achieving their educational dreams."

Bernadette Garrett, who will soon graduate from Windward Community College, said the HINET program's support has changed her life.

"I'm so thankful. This program helped me be able to choose education over just working. To pay for my textbooks and other needs," Garrett said. "The HINET program gave me the motivation and confidence to ensure that as a first-generation Native Hawaiian college student I can continue on the path that my kupuna, my mother, set out for me."

Rep. Woodson said statistics from the HINET Program found that 72% of the participants returned for their next academic year, compared to 54% of all UH community college students.

"About 58% of the participants are Native Hawaiian," said Woodson. "As of February, the program has had 543 enrollees and more than 200 University of Hawai?i Community College students are receiving assistance. About 140 enrollees completed a two-year program and are employed or transferred to a four-year campus."

Both bills now advance to Governor David Ige for approval or veto.
July 12, 2018

Maui Now: Rep. Woodson Supports Kahului Civic Center Mixed-Use Project



Representative Justin H. Woodson of Maui says the recent approval of the Kahului Civic Center Mixed-Use Project and multi-family rental housing units by the Hawaii Housing Finance and Development Corporation Board of Directors is a positive move toward providing more affordable housing.

"This is a good first step to provide much needed affordable housing in Central Maui," said Rep. Woodson whose district covers Kahului, Puunene, Old Sand Hills and Maui Lani. "I greatly support the Board's approval and look forward to working with governmental agencies to bring more affordable for sale and rental units back to Maui."

The HHFDC has approved a Memorandum of Understanding, ground lease, Right-of-Entry, and budget for the Kahului Civic Center project, which includes a new Maui Bus hub and affordable rental housing units in Central Maui.

Earlier this year the legislature approved $2.5 million for the plans, land acquisition, design, and construction for the project. The project will include the Maui Bus hub which will replace the current transit hub at Queen Kaahumanu Center. The Maui Department of Transportation is required to vacate the current hub by Jan. 31, 2020.

The Board also approved $1.5 million from the Dwelling Unit Revolving Funds to be used for multi-family affordable rental housing units for families at or below 60% of the US Department of Housing and Urban Development median income.

March 29, 2017

Maui Now: House approves $31.2 million for Central Maui CIP



Rep. Woodson and Maui delegation spearhead coordinated effort for Valley Isle initiatives; Woodson's UH Promise Program bill moves to the Senate

Honolulu, Hawaii - As part of the current state budget proposal, the House approved $31.2 million for capital improvement projects for Kahului Elementary School, Maui Waena Intermediate School, Kahului Airport, and Kahului Harbor.

"The Maui delegation and I worked hard to gradually upgrade and improve facilities throughout Central Maui," said Representative Justin Woodson (Kahului, Pu'unene, Old Sand Hills, Maui Lani). "We're making good progress thus far."

Among the appropriations, about $1.5 million will go to the two remaining District 9 schools in need of air conditioning units - Kahului Elementary School and Maui Waena Intermediate School. "These funds will bring us closer to our heat abatement goals here in Maui," said Woodson.

Nearly $29.6 million will go toward renovations at Kahului Airport. The funds are designated for holdroom and gate construction and improvements.

"The updated facilities will enhance everyone's experiences using the airport and hopefully, encourage return visitors," said Woodson. An additional $150,000 in funding was also provided for the purchase of a portable bathroom complex for Kahului Harbor.

Kahului Elementary School Plans and designs for air conditioning units; ground and site improvements; equipment and appurtenances. $700,000 Maui Waena Intermedia School Plans and designs for air conditioning units; ground and site improvements; equipment and appurtenances. 800,000 Kahului Airport Design and construction for holdroom and gate improvements and other related improvements. 29,573,000 Kahului Harbor Equipment for the purchase of a large portable bathroom complex to service the harbor. 150,000 TOTAL $31,223,000

In addition to CIP funding, on March 9, the House of Representatives crossed over House Bill (HB) 1594, the Hawaii Promise Program, to the Senate. Woodson introduced the bill, which received the support of all 51 representatives.

The Hawaii Promise Program would help students who qualify to have their remaining unmet financial aid paid through state funds, allowing them to attend college for free.

While David Governor Ige, in his State of the State address, announced that he would support a program to provide two years of free tuition, HB 1594 would extend the support to four years.

"There is no better promise we can make to our young people than that they will get the chance to receive career or technical training and education," said Woodson. "Giving students a helping hand through financial aid is one of the most important bills the legislature can pass this session."



July 1, 2013

MAUI LAWMAKERS PARTICIPATE IN PUBLIC SIGNING OF BILL

Wailea, Maui - Joined by a delegation of Maui lawmakers and community groups, Governor Abercrombie this morning signed into law House Bill 1424, which authorizes the Department of Land and Natural Resources to utilize an appropriation of $20 million for the purchase and acquisition of land parcels at Lipoa Point.

Maui House legislators participating in the public signing ceremony today included Speaker Joseph M. Souki, Representatives Angus McKelvey, Mele Carroll, Kaniela Ing, and Justin Woodson.

Other measures signed into law this morning include:

SB498 which appropriates $600,000 for the establishment of a Maalaea-based special emergency medical response vehicle unit to service the island of Maui on a twenty-four hour, seven-days a week basis. This will supplement the two ambulances already servicing Maui Island and will directly impact the health of Maui residents for the better.

SB1412 shall require the Department of Land and Natural Resources to accommodate native Hawaiian canoes for cultural and education purposes at small boat harbors across the State.

HB1328 will increase the Kaho'olawe Island Reserve Commission's purchasing flexibility by making permanent the exemption for the procurement of food or fuel products.



June 21, 2013

Capital Improvement Projects: Central Maui Middle Schools receive $500,000

Governor Neil Abercrombie today announced the release of more than $134.7 million for capital improvement projects (CIPs), identified by members of the state Legislature, that will improve Hawaii's public school facilities while enhancing economic conditions.

"It gives me great satisfaction to share with you that my Administration is releasing the following CIP funds for work in your District: $500,000 has been allocated to Central Maui Middle Schools, Maui." Governor Abercrombie said. "The improvements are an investment in our keiki and our economy. Capital improvement projects like these across the state are contributing to Hawaii's strong economy and our improved state unemployment rate, which declined to 4.7 percent in May."

Funds for Central Maui Middle Schools will be used to implement planning for a new school that will accommodate the population growth in Central Maui. According to the Department of Education, schools in the area are already over capacity.

As a condition for developing a housing project in Central Maui, the developer has set aside space for this new school (no funds to purchase land will be needed).



June 20, 2013

Capital Improvement Projects: Kahului Airport and Kahului Harbor

Throughout the 2013 Legislative Session Representative Justin Woodson has worked diligently for the people of Maui. As a member of the Finance Committee, Representative Woodson was able to help secure funding for the development of Maui's two most imperative forms of freight transportation, the Kahului Airport and the Kahului Harbor. He was also able to assist in receiving the Department of Transportation's full request of $50 Million dollars for the Kahului Airport and $6 Million dollars for the Kahului Harbor.

These funds will be used for the Kahului Airport for land acquisition and much needed renovations. Kahului Airport experiences over 5.3 million passenger arrivals and departures a year. With such a large influx of visitors and Kamaaiana traveling interisland, development is essential for the continued operation of the facility. The most prominent improvement the airport is expected to receive will be a secondary access road from Hana Highway that will bring drivers directly to the terminal. The land acquisition will also provide room to develop rental car facilities.

Kahului Harbor is one of ten commercial harbors within the State of Hawaii. It is Maui's only deep draft commercial harbor and is the third busiest in the state system. Most goods used by Maui residents and visitors arrive through the Kahului Harbor. The Department of Transportation projects that due to limited land capacity the Harbor will not be able to keep up with the demand of goods necessary. In light of this information and ongoing communication between Representative Justin Woodson and the Department of Transportation, the 2013 Legislature found it necessary to appropriate funds in the amount of $6 million dollars. These funds will be used for improvements to provide safer and more efficient operations at Kahului harbor.


 Measures Introduced in 2023
Measure and Title
HB50
RELATING TO EARLY LEARNING OPPORTUNITIES.
HB51
RELATING TO EDUCATION.
HB53
RELATING TO RIGHT TO REPAIR.
HB54 HD1
RELATING TO EDUCATION.
HB55 HD1
RELATING TO EDUCATION.
HB73
RELATING TO THE JOHN A. BURNS SCHOOL OF MEDICINE.
HB77 HD1
RELATING TO TEACHERS.
HB188 HD1
RELATING TO CARBON SEQUESTRATION.
HB190
RELATING TO SCHOOL BUSES.
HB193 HD1 SD1
RELATING TO ENERGY-EFFICIENCY PORTFOLIO STANDARDS.
HB195 HD1
RELATING TO RENEWABLE ENERGY.
HB197 HD1 SD1
RELATING TO CLIMATE CHANGE MITIGATION.
HB198 HD1
RELATING TO ELECTRIC VEHICLES.
HB199 HD1
RELATING TO THE ENVIRONMENT.
HB244 HD2
RELATING TO CAREER AND TECHNICAL EDUCATION.
HB246
RELATING TO EDUCATION.
HB260 HD1
RELATING TO EDUCATION.
HB261 HD1 SD1
RELATING TO EARLY LEARNING OPPORTUNITIES.
HB262 HD1
RELATING TO EDUCATION.
HB263
RELATING TO CAPITAL IMPROVEMENT PROJECTS FOR THE BENEFIT OF THE NINTH REPRESENTATIVE DISTRICT.
HB281
RELATING TO SCHOOLS.
HB284 HD2
RELATING TO TARO.
HB285 HD1
RELATING TO FIRE PREVENTION.
HB302 HD1
RELATING TO WORKFORCE DEVELOPMENT.
HB314 HD1 SD2
RELATING TO FOOD BANKS.
HB321
RELATING TO HOUSING.
HB322
RELATING TO HEALTH.
HB332 HD1
RELATING TO THE DEPARTMENT OF EDUCATION.
HB335 HD2
RELATING TO DEPARTMENT OF EDUCATION PROCUREMENT.
HB355
RELATING TO COUNTY POLICE DEPARTMENTS.
HB387
RELATING TO THE EMPLOYEES' RETIREMENT SYSTEM.
HB388 HD1 SD2 CD1
RELATING TO EDUCATION.
HB389 HD2
RELATING TO TAXATION.
HB390 HD1
RELATING TO THE UNIVERSITY OF HAWAII PROMISE PROGRAM.
HB391 HD1
RELATING TO CHILD CARE.
HB392
RELATING TO EDUCATION.
HB398 HD1
RELATING TO TAXATION.
HB399
RELATING TO TAX CREDITS.
HB439 HD1
RELATING TO IMMIGRANT SERVICES.
HB443 HD1
RELATING TO AGRICULTURE.
HB444 HD1
PROPOSING AN AMENDMENT TO ARTICLE I OF THE CONSTITUTION OF THE STATE OF HAWAII TO RECOGNIZE AND PROTECT THE INHERENT AND INALIENABLE RIGHT OF ALL PEOPLE TO CLEAN WATER AND AIR, A HEALTHFUL ENVIRONMENT AND CLIMATE, HEALTHY NATIVE ECOSYSTEMS, AND BEACHES.
HB470 HD2 SD1
RELATING TO MINORS.
HB474 HD1
RELATING TO THE STATE OF HAWAII MUSEUM OF NATURAL AND CULTURAL HISTORY.
HB475 HD1 SD2 CD1
RELATING TO THE STATE FOUNDATION ON CULTURE AND THE ARTS.
HB497 HD1
RELATING TO HOUSING.
HB501
RELATING TO TRANSPORTATION.
HB502 HD1
RELATING TO CHILD CARE.
HB503 HD2 SD1 CD1
RELATING TO COMPUTER SCIENCE EDUCATION.
HB504 HD1
RELATING TO CHILD CARE.
HB536
RELATING TO PROCUREMENT.
HB540 HD1
RELATING TO EDUCATION.
HB556 HD2
RELATING TO THE BOARD OF EDUCATION.
HB609 HD2 SD1
RELATING TO AGRICULTURE.
HB617 HD1 SD2
RELATING TO ORAL HEALTH.
HB619 HD2
RELATING TO TAXATION.
HB648 HD1
RELATING TO KUPUNA HOUSING.
HB649
RELATING TO THE HAWAII STATE HEALTH INSURANCE ASSISTANCE PROGRAM.
HB651
RELATING TO CARE FACILITY INSPECTIONS.
HB652 HD2 SD1
RELATING TO CAREGIVERS.
HB653 HD1
RELATING TO HIGHWAYS.
HB658
RELATING TO EDUCATION.
HB661 HD1
RELATING TO LOAN REPAYMENT FOR HEALTH CARE PROFESSIONALS.
HB663 HD1
RELATING TO BREAST CANCER SCREENING.
HB666 HD1
RELATING TO THE INTERSTATE MEDICAL LICENSURE COMPACT.
HB667
RELATING TO THE NURSE LICENSURE COMPACT.
HB743 HD1
RELATING TO EDUCATION.
HB748 HD2
RELATING TO ENVIRONMENTAL PROTECTION.
HB818
RELATING TO HEARING AIDS.
HB834 HD1 SD1
RELATING TO AMERICAN SIGN LANGUAGE.
HB842
RELATING TO EDUCATION.
HB843 HD1
RELATING TO EDUCATION.
HB844 HD1
RELATING TO THE UNIVERSITY OF HAWAII.
HB845
RELATING TO THE BOARD OF EDUCATION.
HB846 HD2
RELATING TO TEACHERS.
HB848 HD2 SD1 CD1
RELATING TO THE HAWAII INSTITUTE FOR MARINE BIOLOGY.
HB872 HD1 SD1
RELATING TO THE HAWAII HEALTHY AGING PARTNERSHIP.
HB874 HD2
RELATING TO COLLECTIVE BARGAINING.
HB875 HD1
RELATING TO EDUCATION.
HB876 HD2
RELATING TO NATIVE POLLINATORS.
HB892 HD2 SD1
RELATING TO SMALL BOAT HARBORS.
HB893
RELATING TO MOTOR VEHICLES.
HB922
RELATING TO WORKERS' COMPENSATION.
HB931
RELATING TO MENSTRUAL PRODUCTS.
HB948 HD2 SD2 CD1
RELATING TO CHILD AND ADOLESCENT MENTAL HEALTH.
HB949 HD2
RELATING TO RENEWABLE ENERGY.
HB950 HD1 SD1 CD1
RELATING TO ASSISTED COMMUNITY TREATMENT ORDERS.
HB951 HD1 SD1
RELATING TO HOUSING.
HB952 HD1
RELATING TO NATURAL RESOURCES.
HB953 HD1 SD1 CD1
RELATING TO THE DEPARTMENT OF LAND AND NATURAL RESOURCES.
HB954 HD2 SD2 CD1
RELATING TO TAXATION.
HB1116 HD1
RELATING TO SCHOOL PSYCHOLOGY.
HB1117 HD2
RELATING TO TEACHER RENTAL HOUSING.
HB1146 HD1
RELATING TO TAXATION.
HB1202 HD1
RELATING TO PAID SICK LEAVE.
HB1203 HD2
RELATING TO TAXATION.
HB1247
RELATING TO DEVELOPMENT PROJECTS.
HB1255 HD1 SD1 CD1
RELATING TO SPECIAL PURPOSE REVENUE BONDS.
HB1263 HD2 SD2
RELATING TO THE HAWAII ABLE SAVINGS PROGRAM.
HB1292
RELATING TO WASTE-TO-ENERGY.
HB1327 HD2 SD1
RELATING TO TAX CREDITS.
HB1328 HD1
RELATING TO CHARTER SCHOOLS.
HB1329 HD1 SD2 CD1
RELATING TO EDUCATION.
HB1330 HD1 SD1
RELATING TO SCHOOL BUS SERVICES.
HB1331 HD1
RELATING TO EDUCATION.
HB1383 HD1 SD1
RELATING TO AGRICULTURE.
HB1408 HD3 SD1
RELATING TO DIGITAL EQUITY.
HB1409 HD2 SD2
RELATING TO EMPLOYEE BENEFITS.
HCR28
DESIGNATING THE MONTH OF MARCH AS HAWAII KIDNEY AWARENESS MONTH.
HCR103 HD1
URGING ALL BRANCHES OF THE UNITED STATES MILITARY OPERATING IN HAWAII TO IMPLEMENT CHANGES IN THEIR POLICIES TO REDUCE, TO THE EXTENT POSSIBLE, THE USE OF PRODUCTS CONTAINING PERFLUOROALKYL AND POLYFLUOROALKYL SUBSTANCES.
HCR188
URGING THE DEPARTMENT OF TRANSPORTATION AND MAUI METROPOLITAN PLANNING ORGANIZATION TO RESTORE THE LAHAINA BYPASS PHASE 1C PROJECT TO THE STATEWIDE TRANSPORTATION IMPROVEMENT PROGRAM.
HCR193
URGING THE GOVERNOR AND STATE DEPARTMENTS TO INVESTIGATE OPPORTUNITIES PROVIDED BY THE DIRECT PAY PROVISION IN THE INFLATION REDUCTION ACT THAT ALLOWS FOR DIRECT PAYMENT OF CLEAN ENERGY INCENTIVES TO STATE GOVERNMENT ENTITIES FOR THE COST OF INSTALLING SOLAR ENERGY SYSTEMS IN STATE FACILITIES.
HR9
ESTABLISHING THE HOUSE SPECIAL COMMITTEE ON RED HILL TO ADDRESS ISSUES RELATED TO THE RED HILL BULK FUEL STORAGE FACILITY, WATER CONTAMINATION AND REMEDIATION, AND ALL RELATED IMPACTS.
HR10
ESTABLISHING A LEGISLATIVE WORKING GROUP TO OVERSEE THE DEPARTMENT OF HAWAIIAN HOME LANDS' EXECUTION OF FUNDS APPROPRIATED PURSUANT TO ACT 279, SESSION LAWS OF HAWAII 2022, TO ADDRESS THE BENEFICIARY WAITING LIST.
HR109 HD1
URGING ALL BRANCHES OF THE UNITED STATES MILITARY OPERATING IN HAWAII TO IMPLEMENT CHANGES IN THEIR POLICIES TO REDUCE, TO THE EXTENT POSSIBLE, THE USE OF PRODUCTS CONTAINING PERFLUOROALKYL AND POLYFLUOROALKYL SUBSTANCES.
HR193
URGING THE DEPARTMENT OF TRANSPORTATION AND MAUI METROPOLITAN PLANNING ORGANIZATION TO RESTORE THE LAHAINA BYPASS PHASE 1C PROJECT TO THE STATEWIDE TRANSPORTATION IMPROVEMENT PROGRAM.
HR198
URGING THE GOVERNOR AND STATE DEPARTMENTS TO INVESTIGATE OPPORTUNITIES PROVIDED BY THE DIRECT PAY PROVISION IN THE INFLATION REDUCTION ACT THAT ALLOWS FOR DIRECT PAYMENT OF CLEAN ENERGY INCENTIVES TO STATE GOVERNMENT ENTITIES FOR THE COST OF INSTALLING SOLAR ENERGY SYSTEMS IN STATE FACILITIES.
HR213
CONGRATULATING THE 2023 HAWAI‘I STATE TEACHER OF THE YEAR AND THE 2023 TEACHERS OF THE YEAR FOR SCHOOL COMPLEXES IN THE LEEWARD DISTRICT AND HONOLULU DISTRICT.
HR214
CONGRATULATING THE 2023 HAWAI‘I CHARTER SCHOOL TEACHER OF THE YEAR AND THE 2023 TEACHERS OF THE YEAR FOR SCHOOL COMPLEXES IN THE MAUI DISTRICT, HAWAI‘I DISTRICT, AND CENTRAL DISTRICT.
HR215
CONGRATULATING THE 2022 NATIONAL DISTINGUISHED PRINCIPAL, 2022 NATIONAL OUTSTANDING ASSISTANT PRINCIPAL, 2022 GOLDEN KEY AWARDEE, 2022 OUTSTANDING LIBRARY SERVICE AWARDEE, AND 2023 HAWAI‘I SCHOOL COUNSELOR OF THE YEAR.
HR216
CONGRATULATING THE 2023 UNITED STATES SENATE YOUTH PROGRAM DELEGATES, PHI THETA KAPPA HONOR SOCIETY INTERNATIONAL CO-PRESIDENT, AND 2023 LIFESMARTS CONSUMER EDUCATION COMPETITION SECOND PLACE RECIPIENTS.
HR217
COMMENDING AND CONGRATULATING THE 2022 U.S. DEPARTMENT OF EDUCATION NATIONAL BLUE RIBBON SCHOOLS.
HR218
CONGRATULATING THE 2023 MILKEN EDUCATOR AWARDEE AND 2022 TEACHER OF PROMISE AWARD FINALISTS FOR THE HILO-WAIAKEA, KA‘U-KEA‘AU-PAHOA, ‘AIEA-MOANALUA-RADFORD, AND PEARL CITY-WAIPAHU COMPLEXES.