Caldwell "dreams bigger" in State of the City address, but not without cuts

Caldwell "dreams bigger" in State of the City address, but not without cuts

HONOLULU (HawaiiNewsNow) - To begin his second State of the City address, Honolulu Mayor Kirk Caldwell cited an exchange he had while serving in the state House of Representatives in 2008 in which he asked the late State Senator Nadao Yoshinaga, a World War II veteran, what he would have done differently in his life.

"I would have dreamed bigger," Yoshinaga reportedly told Caldwell.

Speaking from McCoy Pavilion at Ala Moana Beach Park on Wednesday morning, Mayor Caldwell outlined his own dreams for the future of Honolulu, focusing heavily on transportation and infrastructure repairs while minding the city's growing budgetary constrictions.

Last February, Mayor Caldwell outlined five priorities in his first State of the City address: Improving the city's roads, sewers, bus services, parks, and rail construction project. Caldwell touched on the city's progress in each of those five areas, highlighting his administration's progress in repaving substandard roads (398 lane miles in 2013, which exceeded the city's 300 lane mile goal) and increasing funding for capital improvements at city parks to $39 million dollars.

With the city's rail project back on track, Caldwell says, Honolulu Authority for Rail Transit contractors have completed work on 50 columns for the elevated railway. Caldwell says that 220 columns are forecast to be completed by the end of the year, and that nearly 1,000 people are employed in Hawaii as a direct result of the rail project.

In what he says is the issue that "generates more complaints than any other," Mayor Caldwell proposed spending $18.9 million dollars of the city's Affordable Housing funds on the administration's Housing First shelter program, which he says would see homeless into housing with "an effective support system" to cope with addictions and other mental illnesses.

Additional housing in Honolulu's urban core will place additional stress on the city's roads, and Mayor Caldwell spoke at length about improvements to alternative transportation services.

"For far too long, Honolulu has been a car centric culture," Mayor Caldwell said. "I want to build a transportation network for the 21st century and beyond, which includes supporting multi-modal thoroughfares for bikes, buses, pedestrians and vehicles."

Mayor Caldwell says more than two million dollars in funding to encourage the use of bicycles has been proposed in his upcoming budget plan, including $1.4 million of the development of protected bike lanes on urban thoroughfares.

Caldwell also says his budget plan contains $20 million in funding for new buses and improvements to bus stops.

That budget plan, though, contained significant cuts to personnel, with Mayor Caldwell announcing that 618 city jobs would be "deactivated" in an effort to save nearly $37 million dollars. The plan, Caldwell says, was developed using a "zero-based budget" approach in an effort to eliminate wasteful spending from the source.

"This means we asked departments, wherever they could, to start from zero, and they were required to review and justify each expense," Mayor Caldwell said.

Mayor Caldwell's budget is slated to be submitted to the City Council on Friday.

We will have more information on Mayor Caldwell's State of the City address tonight on Hawaii News Now beginning at 5 p.m. on KGMB and KHNL.

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