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No funding solution for PISCES

The future is uncertain for a state-run aerospace center after a bill unexpectedly passed on Tuesday did not include any funding for facility.

The Hilo-based Pacific International Space Center for Exploration Systems, or PISCES, was shut down earlier this month after a state budget bill passed in June mistakenly did not include funds for the center.

Hilo Rep. Mark Nakashima said last week that funds could be restored to PISCES by amending House Bill 862 to include that funding.

However, Gov. David Ige on Tuesday vetoed HB 862, and the Legislature overrode his veto hours later — without making any amendments to the bill.

“The decision was made to leave it unamended because the administration was trying to make it a ‘Christmas tree bill,’” Nakashima said Wednesday, using an informal term for a bill that attracts several unrelated amendments.

HB 862 was amended several times during its life cycle — including a major change to the way Transient Accommodations Tax revenue is allocated and a reduction in funding for the Hawaii Tourism Authority — but its original purpose was to simply shift authority over PISCES from the Department of Business, Economic Development and Tourism to the University of Hawaii.

Nakashima said no other bills that the governor vetoed can be amended to include the PISCES funding.

Instead, Nakashima said he and other lawmakers are in discussions with UH-Hilo to determine whether the university can spare some funding to tide PISCES over until the next legislative session.

Even if that is possible, however, PISCES will not be the same. All of PISCES staff have been laid off, and the center’s director, Rodrigo Romo, said last week that he will not return to the center even if it is resurrected.

Email Michael Brestovansky at
Source: Hawaii Tribune Herald

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