State House to Restore Funding to Hilo Youth Challenge Academy
Today, March 24, the House of Representatives passed the House version of the state budget which rejects the administration’s proposed cut to the Youth Challenge Academy Hilo campus.
House Bill 200 House Draft 1 restores more than $600,000 in general funds and $2.3 million in federal funds to the program and retains over 40 full-time positions that would otherwise have been cut.
“Closing the Youth Challenge Academy in Hilo would significantly impact at-risk youth on the Big Island. Instead of shutting it down, we should be ensuring that they have the resources they need to help their students,” said Rep. Chris Todd (D-2, Hilo), in whose district the YCA facility is located. “I am very proud that we passed the budget draft with this important provision, and I’m hopeful that we can keep it in as it goes through the Senate.”
In an effort to restore funding and sustain the Hilo campus, Rep. Greggor Ilagan (D-4, Puna) introduced House Bill 835 at the start of the session in January. The measure passed second reading in the Senate and has garnered wide support from the community including the Hawaiʻi State Judiciary, the County of Hawaiʻi Prosecuting Attorney and Youth Challenge Academy students past and present.
“I’d like to thank the Chairs who heard this measure and the Hawaiʻi Island delegation for working alongside Representative Todd and me to advocate for this important program,” Ilagan said.
The Youth Challenge Academy, operated by the Hawai‘i National Guard, is a community-based program that trains, educates, and mentors young people under military-like conditions. The goal of the program is to prepare at-risk students with the life-skills, discipline, and guidance to succeed as productive members of society.
HB 200 HD1, the state operating budget for fiscal years 2021-2022 and 2022-2023, appropriates $31.36 billion for the two fiscal years. This budget includes the $1.6 billion in federal American Rescue Plan Act (ARPA) funds along with $15.17 billion in general funds.
The budget bill now crosses over to the Senate for their review.