Finance Chair Marcus Oshiro defends the legislature's position to use the highway fund rather than the general fund for improvements to crosswalks in this morning's Advertiser. Read entire piece here. His main points are:
1)Federal dollar match is only in jeopardy if the fund is depleted. The law requires that the fund maintain a 35% cushion (about $60 million), and the projection for the end of FY2007 is that the fund will have a balance of $90 million.
2)This is not a "raid". There is a clear nexus between the highway fund and road safety. In fact, there is an entire program within DOT called "Highway Safety" whose sole purpose is to provide a safe, efficient and accessible highway system.
3)If our state highways are in bad shape, it is due to inefficient management and not a lack of funding. The Reason Foundation, an independent think tank, released a report that said in 2005, Hawaii ranked 5th in the highest amount spent to build and maintain each mile of highway. Sadly, we ranked 5th lowest for highway safety.
4)State economy is slowing. It will be difficult to find $3 million in the general fund for pedestrian safety. Let's use the highway fund for this purpose and save more money in the general fund for other needs.