Lawmakers gaveled out of the 2022 session having tucked away billions of dollars for Native Hawaiian causes, housing projects and other initiatives.
The Legislature just ended what may be one of the most significant sessions in state history that saw billions of dollars allocated to Native Hawaiian causes, housing projects and a slew of other initiatives that could put some money back in the pockets of taxpayers.
If the session had to get a letter grade, Senate President Ron Kouchi said his fellow lawmakers deserve an “A.”
“I’ve never achieved every single bill I’ve talked about before,” Kouchi said, adding that almost every session lawmakers lose priority measures as problems crop up.
The Hawaii Legislature on Thursday unanimously passed landmark legislation appropriating $600 million for the state’s Native Hawaiian homesteading program, a chronically underfunded initiative that has long fallen short of its promise to return Native people to their ancestral land.
The amount represents the largest one-time infusion of money in the program’s 101-year history, and it’s more than seven times the record amount that state lawmakers approved in 2021. The majority of the funds will go toward the development of nearly 3,000 lots, most of them residential, on Hawaii’s main islands.