Governor unveils $22.7 billion biennium budget - Hawaii News Now - KGMB and KHNL

Governor unveils $22.7 billion biennium budget

Kalbert Young Kalbert Young

By Jim Mendoza - bio | email 

HONOLULU (HawaiiNewsNow) - Governor Neil Abercrombie believes the details in his 66-page financial plan will restore government functions and do away with a multi-million dollar budget shortfall.

"This budget represents more than numbers on a piece of paper," he said at a budget briefing for reporters.

The operating budget breaks down to $11.4 billion in fiscal year 2012 and $11.3 billion in 2013 -- $22.7 billion overall.

It's up about seven percent in spending over what Gov. Linda Lingle called for.

State Budget and Finance director Kalbert Young said following the plan will eliminate an $844 million deficit.

"We will be out of the deficit in FY 12 and 13 with a little bit of room to spare," he said.

Abercrombie said his budget invests $2.7 billion into capital improvement projects to accelerate economic recovery. He said it also restores basic services to government agencies without growing government.

"This is an argument about can we provide the basic services to see that children are fed, that people are housed, that healthcare necessities will be met," he said.

The budget is based on how much money the state takes in from taxes and other sources.

Abercrombie's current proposals include ending Medicare Part B reimbursements for retired state workers and taxing pensions.

Last week residents at a town hall meeting confronted him with concerns over both ideas.

Abercrombie also wants to increase the tax on liquor and cut funding to some social service programs.

"We're not asking the public or your state government to take severe cuts or to generate severe revenue increases beyond what the other side is asking for," Young said.

Lawmakers will use the spending draft to evaluate Abercrombie's proposals to raise revenue and cut government costs.

The state House must finalize the budget before sending it over to the Senate on March 16.

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