East Hawaii News

Budget Negotiations Pau; UHH Pharmacy School Building Left Out

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Lawmakers Tuesday night wrapped up negotiations on the state budget bill – three days ahead of schedule.

The $23.8 billion budget for the next two fiscal years came in $250 million less than the one proposed by Gov. Neil Abercrombie, said spokespersons for the House and Senate.

It includes cutting of 200 state employee positions at a savings of $8 million, as well as funding of $100 million in the 2013-2014 fiscal year and $117.4 million for the following year toward unfunded liabilities for the public workers union trust fund. The current level of unfunded liabilities is $13.6 billion.

Lawmakers also appropriated $2.2 billion for capital improvements for the next fiscal year and $843 million for the following year.

One of the items that did not get funded – despite an intensive lobbying effort on its behalf – was a building for the University of Hawaii at Hilo pharmacy school, which currently operates out of temporary facilities.

The CIP budget includes:

  • $1.2 billion for Department of Transportation projects, including $70 million to expand Kona International Airport and $140 million for Honolulu’s airport. Another $250 million is earmarked for improvements at the state’s harbors
  • $130 million for information systems to streamline tax collections, share health information and to secure the state’s communication network
  • $200 million for maintenance and renovation of state facilities
  • More than $98 million for education projects around the state including $38.2 million for an advanced technology and science center at Honolulu Community College, $11.8 million for a new facility for an Allied Health Program at University of Hawaii-West Oahu, $18 million to complete the campus at Ewa Makai Middle School and $30 million for a new high school in Kihei, Maui.

An ad hoc group of Hilo academics, business and community leaders had lobbied members of the House in recent weeks in an effort to obtain funding for a permanent home for UH-Hilo’s pharmacy school.

Friends of The Daniel K. Inouye College of Pharmacy had presented lawmakers with 1,000 letters of community support and petitions with 1,243 signatures. The effort included visits to the capitol last week by student pharmacists.

The Senate had included $38 million for the school in its version of the budget but the project had been left out of the House CIP spending plan.

The Legislature has also released its list of grants-in-aid in operation funds for the next fiscal year which included $200,000 for the Hawaii County Economic Opportunity Council, $79,238 for the North Kohala Community Resource Center and $50,000 for the Mo`okini Luakini Foundation, which is dedicated to preserving the ancient North Kohala heiau.

Other recipients of grants-in-aid included $1 million for the National Kidney Foundation of Hawai, Inc., $562,000 for the 442nd Regimental Combat Team Foundation and $400,000 for Catholic Charities Hawaii.

The budget bill is still subject to floor votes by the House and Senate, which have not yet been scheduled.

***Updated at 9:48 a.m. Thursday, April 24, to clarify the grants-in-aid list.***


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