News

Senate Passes Budget With 25-0 Vote

March 15, 2019, 3:18 PM HST
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The Hawai‘i Senate today passed its version of the state budget by a unanimous 25-0 vote.

Speaking on the Senate floor before the vote, Ways and Means Chair Sen. Donovan Dela Cruz thanked the chairs of the Senate’s subject matter committees “for taking up the challenge presented at the beginning of session to really dive into their department budgets, scrutinize the requests, and make recommendations to the Ways and Means Committee so that we may pass an executive budget that helps hold State Government accountable and live within our means, based off of the revenues that we collect.”

Following a new budget process put into place a few months ago, the Ways and Means committee passed HB2 and HB116 together to make up the Senate’s position on the Executive Budget. HB116 is supplemental to HB2.

The Senate Draft of the Executive Budget for fiscal biennium 2019-21 puts forth a state budget that is $31.7 million lower than the Executive Budget for Fiscal Year 2020 and $183.6 million lower for Fiscal Year 2021. Dela Cruz called it “a responsible budget.”

“We looked at ways to cut costs, reduce spending and put forward bills to generate revenue which have crossed over to the House,” Dela Cruz said. “Working with the Subject Matter Committee Chairs in putting together the Senate Draft, we kept in mind our fixed costs obligations such as our health benefits, Medicaid, pensions and debt service.

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The committee amended HB116 to include additional funding requests above and beyond the base budget adjustments. These adjustments include new positions, new programs and budget requests from the Senate Subject Matter Committee chairs.

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The Senate Draft of the State Budget includes funding the following priorities:

  • supporting programs and services for AGRICULTURE and to implement the interagency biosecurity plan
  • funding to support grants for local businesses to help expand and diversify our ECONOMY
  • providing funding for Weighted Student Formula, Early College, and Hawaii Promise
  • funding to protect our NATURAL RESOURCES, wildfire response, combat critical invasive species, and to help stop Rapid Ohia Death
  • providing funding for critical programs to address homelessness, State Rent Supplement Program, and other homeless initiatives; and
  • providing funding for Juvenile Justice Reform.

The Senate also determined that the following priorities should continue to receive funding and has included placeholders in the senate draft to allow for further discussion:

  • Kupuna Care
  • Kupuna Caregivers Program
  • Maui Health Systems
  • Governor’s Message that requested to add funding to the Executive Budget. The Governor’s Messages were submitted late to the Legislature therefore a placeholder has been included in the Senate
  • Draft and have been inserted into individual Senate Bills.

The bills will next be considered in Conference Committee, where Senate and House negotiators will work out differences in the chambers’ drafts.

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