October 30, 2001
Contact: Rep. Marcus Oshiro
Phone: 586-8505

House Gives Final Approval for New UH Medical School

Other emergency measures also pass final reading

The House of Representatives today gave final approval on eight emergency measures, including financing for a new University of Hawaii Medical School, according to State Rep. Marcus Oshiro, House Majority Leader.

Hailed as the single "bright hope" to emerge from the special session by The Honolulu Advertiser, the measure authorizes the University of Hawaii to issue $150 million in revenue bonds to pay for construction of the complex, which includes the medical school as well as a health and wellness center.

The bill earmarks 28 percent out of the Tobacco Settlement Fund to finance the debt payments on the bond issue, Oshiro said.

House Majority Floor Leader Marilyn Lee said in support of the measure that "one of the best uses that could be made of monies derived from the State's settlement with tobacco companies is to invest those monies into bio-medical research. Sixteen States have passed budget or enabling legislation to use some portion of their tobacco settlement for bio-science related efforts …

"… The crisis we face makes the fast tracking of this project more worthy than ever before and offers the promise of substantial progress in our State's struggle for economic diversification," Lee said.

Voting against the measure were GOP Representatives Emily Auwae, Guy Ontai, Kika Bukoski, Mindy Jaffe, Charles Djou, Colleen Meyer, Chris Halford, Jim Rath, Paul Whalen, Ron Davis, Joe Gomes, and Minority Leader Galen Fox.

Rep. K. Mark Takai, the only Democrat to oppose the bill, said he was against the bill's method of funding the project.

Other important emergency measures gaining final approval included:

Rep. Nathan Suzuki estimated this measure would result in a $17 million increase in cash flow for these taxpayers and there would be substantial savings because of the reduced volume of paperwork. "A fair guess is that the reduction amounts to $9 million in savings if we assume a processing cost of $50 per return," Suzuki said.

"This industry will have $75 million less to spend this year because of the state of our economy … Now is the time this industry desperately needs relief," Suzuki said.

The measures now go to the Governor for his signature.

Passing second reading during the day's proceedings was Senate Bill 8, Senate Draft 2, which would provide a non-refundable hotel construction and remodeling tax credit of 10 percent, as well as a residential construction and remodeling tax credit of 4 percent up to a maximum of $250,000, Oshiro said. The measure is scheduled for final reading tomorrow.

"I believe these are the right choices to make at this time to deal with our most immediate needs. As new information is received on the economic outlook for Hawaii, they will be factored in when we convene in regular session in January," he added.

Today is the seventh day of the Legislature's Emergency Special Session, which is now scheduled to adjourn on Friday, November 2.