East Hawaii News

Legislature’s Math Woes Require School Budget Cuts

June 9, 2014, 4:46 PM HST
* Updated June 9, 4:59 PM
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Gov. Neil Abercrombie said today some fine-tuning is needed before he can sign the budget the Legislature passed in April.

Abercrombie said the Legislature appropriated $444 million more in capital improvements than the amount of bonds it authorized to be sold to fund those projects.

According to a press release from the governor’s office, Attorney General David Louie said the resulting “legal issues” mean that the governor could not sign either the budget bill or the Bond Declaration Bill in their current forms.

The release said the Department of Budget and Finance determined that some of the discrepancies occurred in appropriations for the Department of Education in what is known as “state educational facilities improvement” or SEFI authorizations.

Fixing the budget discrepancy will require cuts in that account, said Abercrombie spokesman Justin Fujioka.

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He said the SEFI is a lump-sum account that includes a variety of CIP, renovation and other school projects.

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Lawmakers appropriated $399 million for SEFI funding in the upcoming budget.

Fujioka said since Hawaii operates under a biennial or two-year budget, the DOE believes it can make do with the cuts as long as the Legislature next year restores the funding for the fiscal year starting in July 2015.

The line-item cuts are the product of discussions with legislative leaders and the DOE, Abercrombie said.

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The DOE plans to minimize impacts of the cuts on projects already in the works.

It was not immediately clear where the other $45 million needed to be cut would be found.

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