East Hawaii News

SWM Committee Proposes State Budget, Includes Big Island Priorities

April 6, 2016, 9:27 AM HST
* Updated April 6, 1:08 PM
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Hawaii State Legislature photo.

Hawaii State Legislature photo.

The Senate Ways and Means Committee introduced and passed budget amendments on Tuesday that reflect priorities in communities and across the state.

As proposed, the Senate Ways and Means version of the budget would spend $29 billion over a two year period, a reduction from the $30.7 billion that was proposed by Governor David Ige.

Several items in the draft will impact the Big Island, including $5.2 million in general obligation reimbursable bond funds to the Natural Energy Laboratory of Hawai’i in Kona and 33 positions and $1,777,362 in general funds for the management of the dengue fever outbreak and newly emerging public health threats. In addition, Hilo International Airport would receive $580,000 in special funds for airport seating replacement and the Audit Branch Hawai’i would be allotted $21,684 for one new position.

Along with Big Island-centric inclusions, the draft notes $7.3 million in general funds for operating support for homeless programs and funding for operating and capital improvement projects that would increase affordable housing.

Across the state, $21 million in general funds were proposed for an operating subsidy to the Hawai’i Health System Corporation to continue to provide healthcare services across the state. Several other HHSC inclusions were made for support on Maui.

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The Department of Business, Economic Development, and Tourism is included in the budget draft, including $150,000 in general funds for an unmanned aerial systems test site for the Office of Aerospace Development and $100,000 for a temporary position for the Hawai’i broadband initiative.

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WAM also included $500,000 for veterans’ memorials and commemoration events in its draft.

Hawai’i Department of Education Inclusion Highlights:

  • $10 million in general funds for Weighted Student Formula for English Language Learners
  • $16,537,791 in general funds for Weighted Student Formula
  • $1 million in general funds for classroom supplies and equipment for new facilities
  • $6,984,689 in general funds for Public School Transportation Services
  • $5,215,919 in general funds for Utilities
  • $200,000 in general funds for repair and maintenance backlog for public libraries
  • $250,000 in general funds and $250,000 in special funds for the Hawai’i State Public Library System.

Governor Ige’s operating budget proposed to add $335 million in general funds for fiscal year 2016 to 2017. The amount was reduced by $215 million in the Senate draft, creating a total operating budget of $120 million in general funds for the fiscal year.  The Senate draft did not include 100 percent pre-funding of Other Post-Employment Benefits, which was included in the Governor’s draft, and amounted to approximately $163 million dollars.

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“The Senate draft of the supplemental budget balances priority needs with existing resources, ensuring programs and services can be maintained over time,” said Senator Jill Tokuda, WAM Committee chair. “Our Committee once again identified ways to encourage efficiencies and better utilize base appropriations to do more with less, without unsustainable adding to our budget.”

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