The University of Hawaii has drastically cut its funding request for the planned Daniel K. Inouye library, including slashing a request for state bond financing by two thirds, to $5 million.
Interim UH President David Lassner proposed the funding change at today’s Board of Regents meeting after hearing public testimony from Inouye’s former chief of staff, Jennifer Sabas, who spoke on behalf of the late U.S. senator’s family and cited concerns about how quickly UH was moving on the proposed $27.5 million project.
Sabas noted community concerns about the university’s efforts to get the project built as soon as possible, adding that Inouye would be saddened by the criticisms over transparency. Inouye’s widow, Irene, and his son, Ken, also attended the meeting.
Lassner said he proposed the change in respect of the family’s remarks. He said the reduction would allow for fundraising at the federal and local levels. Construction will not begin in July as planned, he said.
He added that the $5 million legislative request would allow the state to demonstrate its commitment to the project.
The university’s budget initially had included a request for $15 million in state general obligation bond financing and $10 million in federal funds. Those have been reduced to the single $5 million request. Another $2.5 million would still come from UH revolving funds and private donations.
The regents approved the change in unanimously voting in favor of the university’s overall budget proposal for next year.
The planned project generated criticism not only for the speed in which UH was pursuing it but the hefty price tag. At $27 million, it would have been the priciest new building on a per-square-foot basis that UH has pursued in years.
Star-Advertiser reporter Rob Perez contributed to this report.