April 5, 2021, 2:46 p.m. HST
The Senate Ways and Means Committee amended and adopted on April 1 HB200, Hawaii’s operating budget statement for fiscal years 2021-2022 (FY22) and 2022-2023 (FY23).
Despite an initial projected deficit of nearly $ 2 billion, the Ways and Means Committee unanimously approved the bill, which includes the injection of $ 1.6 billion in federal assistance to the budget of the State from the American Rescue Plan Act and nearly $ 16 billion in general funds for the biennial budget starting July 1, 2021 and ending June 30, 2023.
“The economic effects of the pandemic have focused many conversations about our current spending practices and the prudent use of resources as we continue to face rising spending and sharply declining revenues,” said Senator Donovan Dela Cruz (District 22), chairman of the Senate Ways and Means Committee. “The Senate’s approach to balancing the budget consisted of six well-defined actions that strike a balance between meeting the state’s current and emerging needs, while ensuring that no additional financial burdens are created for future generations.”
The Senate budget proposal for the state budget includes funding for the following priorities, according to a press release from the Senate:
- Agriculture: Support for various programs and services, including the creation of the pesticide phase-out program and the increase in the ceilings for loans for water infrastructure and agricultural resource management.
- Economy: Funding to support the State Museums, the Iolani Palace and the Bishop Museum; and the allocation of ARPA funds to the Hawai’i Tourism Authority (HTA) to help support our tourism industry.
- Education: Supporting Hawaii’s Learners and Education Systems by Adding Alternative Learning Funds, Teacher Rent Grants, Statewide Trauma Care Services, and Kindergarten to Grade 12 programs year in libraries. Funding was also restored for special education, libraries, instructional support, tutoring, school community services, charter schools and the Department of Education’s student weighted formula.
- Higher Education: Funding has been added for UH Mānoa, UH Cancer Center, Early College, JABSOM, UH Mānoa and UH Hilo Athletics and the Hawaiʻi Promise Program. Funding was also restored for UH Hilo, UH West Oʻahu, UH Systemwide Support and UH Community Colleges.
- Protect our natural resources: Funding was restored for the Land and Water Management Division and the Native Resources and Fire Protection Program. Funds have also been added for the Conservation and Resource Enforcement Division and to help combat the rapid death of ʻōhiʻa.
- Personal services: Funds have been added to support health and human services programs such as the General Assistance Program, Homeless Services, Preschool Open Houses, Medicaid Payments, the Rent Supplement Program. ‘State and youth programs in the community.
- Critical programs: Funding has been allocated to support the Crime Victims Compensation Program, the Victim Criminals and Witness Career Program, and the Sexual Abuse Treatment Center.
House Bill 200 House Bill 1 and Senate Bill 1 are now referred to the Senate for a vote at second and third reading.