Affordable housing, preschool among top priorities as new legislative session begins

As the 32nd state legislature begins, lawmakers provide insight on their top priorities and goals such as affordable housing and education.
Published: Jan. 18, 2023 at 8:53 AM HST|Updated: Jan. 18, 2023 at 10:25 AM HST
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HONOLULU (HawaiiNewsNow) - Affordable housing, mental health services and expanding preschool education are among the top priorities for lawmakers as they kick off the new legislative session Wednesday.

HNN spoke with some lawmakers about their plans for the new session. Here’s what they had to say:

Senate President Ronald Kouchi

Kouchi said his focus is on expanding preschool opportunities.

“We appropriated $200 million last year to build classrooms,” said Kouchi. “The lieutenant governor has identified they’ll be coming in asking for $40 million so we can expand some of the subsidies to help those who can’t pay for Pre-K.”

Kouchi added that there currently isn’t enough classrooms for the DOE to run preschool statewide.

Senate President Ronald Kouchi says he's focused on building more affordable housing.

Majority Leader Nadine Nakamura

“The main priorities are to take a real close look at the mental health issues of our state,” said Nakamura. “We know there are adults and children that are suffering and we need to bring the proper services to them.

Wednesday marks the first day of the 2023 legislative session at the Hawaii State Capitol

Sen. Dru Kanuha

“The Capitol is open for everybody to come visit and advocate for anything they are working on in the community,” said Kanuha.

He added that one of the main priorities is to expand broadband access to rural communities.

Wednesday marks the first day of the 2023 legislative session at the Hawaii State Capitol.

Vice Speaker of House Greggor Ilagan

“From our 12 townhalls, I have three top priorities,” said Ilagan. “One of them is the Pohoiki Boat Ramp... we want to reveal the Pohoiki Boat Ramp and fund that project this session as well as moving on with the alternative route project.”

Lawmakers say they are also looking toward expanding affordable housing and protecting the environment.

Sen. Lynn DeCoite

“There’s funding out there for agriculture and just about every shape and form... tax incentives are there,” said DeCoite. She added that more support is underway for farmers and even small farm start-ups.

Another priority on the list for the new legislative session — addressing axis deer populations. DeCoite said “all hands are on deck.”

The new legislative session kicked off Wednesday at the Hawaii State Capitol.