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Issue Position: Higher Education

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A Tireless Advocate for Higher Education

As the Chairperson of the Senate Committee on Higher Education since 2009, Jill has been a tireless advocate for the University of Hawaii system, working to get our University the resources and flexibility it needs to offer students a top-notch educational experience.

This past legislative session, Senator Tokuda helped the University secure $176 million in Capital Improvement Project and Repair and Maintenance Funds, and successfully negotiated a 2-year pilot project exempting the system from the state procurement code. Aimed at quickly moving out over $250M in funded and ready-to-go construction jobs while still maintaining a high level of transparency and accountability, this project has the double benefit of putting people back to work while increasing funds coming into the University through indirect costs.

Jill is also a firm believer in the critical role higher education plays in Hawaii's economic recovery and prosperity. In 2009, she introduced much needed legislation, SB1665, to establish the Skilled Worker and Business Development Center within the community colleges. Utilizing resources such as federal Reed Act funds, the center will focus on helping struggling businesses and nonprofit organizations survive and thrive during the ups and downs of the economy, and enhance the college's rapid response capabilities when responding to mass layoff situations such as Aloha Airline.

Able to focus on outcomes to solve long standing problems, Senator Tokuda was instrumental in moving forward HB1174, which gave the University the authority to promulgate rules to protect and manage the Mauna Kea lands it leases. This rule-making authority had been repeatedly suggested by the Office of the Auditor since 1998, but had failed to clear the legislature. Listening and responding to concerns raised by cultural descendents, Jill included both consultation and on-island hearing requirements in the final version of the bill.


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