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ANALYSIS: By the Numbers – State Budget Edition

December 21, 2013, 5:28 PM HST
* Updated December 23, 5:05 PM
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With the state of Hawai`i awash in a record-breaking budget surplus of $844 million, Gov. Neil Abercrombie has released his list of proposed budget changes for the fiscal years of 2014 and 2015.

The changes, which supplement the Legislature’s existing budget, will be reviewed by state lawmakers when they begin their new session in January.

We’ve reviewed the governor’s budget proposal, and have highlighted what we view as some of the most significant (or interesting) requests that could affect Big Island residents.

Items are listed by state agency:

Office of the Governor: Abercrombie has requested $5.7 million to expand pre-K services to an additional 1,040 children statewide at school campuses. That amounts to around $5,469 per student over a two-year period, or $2,735 annually.

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Department of Agriculture: The governor’s $54 million in proposals include $3.5 million for the “Waimea Homestead Community Agricultural Park” on the Big Island.

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Department of Business, Economic Development and Tourism: Abercrombie is requesting an additional $135.8 million for DBEDT, including $50 million in funds for the state’s GEMS (Green Energy Market Securitization) program for green energy financing, and more than $3.6 million for a potable water well at West Hawai`i’s Natural Energy Lab of Hawai`i Authority.

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Abercrombie’s budget requests include funds for three temporary positions to implement the state’s medical marijuana program.

Department of Education: Among the $207 million in additional funds requested is a proposal for $25 million worth of air conditioning systems at schools statewide, as well as $300,000 to expand operating hours at libraries on Maui and the Big Island.

Department of Health: Abercrombie has requested approximately $71 million, including approximately $198,000 to “operationalize” the state’s medical marijuana program, adding three temporary positions to serve that purpose.

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Department of Human Services: More than $8.5 million is being sought to increase the foster care “board rate” for those housing foster children across the state.

A class-action lawsuit was filed against the state earlier this month on behalf of more than 1,000 foster parents who say they haven’t had their reimbursement levels raised since 1990.

An aerial view of the University of Hawaii at Hilo. Courtesy photo.

An aerial view of the University of Hawaii at Hilo. Courtesy photo.

Department of Transportation: Abercrombie has proposed more than $882 million in additional spending, including $135 million to improve rental car facilities across the state.

University of Hawai`i: Under the governor’s requests, UH would receive more than $454 million in additional funding, much of it for deferred maintenance. The UH appropriation also includes  $33.5 million in salary restorations and increases for UHPA, $3.5 million in special and revolving funds for University of Hawaii at Hilo, and $33 million in bonds to finance the expansion of the UH-Hilo Daniel K. Inouye College of Pharmacy.

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