DOE faces state and federal funding cuts - Hawaii News Now - KGMB and KHNL

DOE faces state and federal funding cuts

Amy Kunz Amy Kunz
Wesley Lo Wesley Lo
Sen. David Ige Sen. David Ige
HONOLULU (HawaiiNewsNow) -

The 18 state departments are making their pitch for why their budgets shouldn't be cut.  The Department of Education is facing state cuts as well as federal sequestration cuts.

The State Department of Education has some grave concerns with the proposed budget cuts.  So far the State House of Representatives would cut the DOE's budget by $20 million next year and $43 million the year after.  It may not sound like much considering the DOE budget is nearly $1.4 billion but the finance folks say it is.

"It is when we're trying to specifically fund these initiatives going forward," said Amy Kunz, DOE Assistant Superintendent, Chief Financial Officer. "We're trying to not do things the same old way the DOE always has. We're really trying to transform and move forward and to do that we're doing a lot of new initiatives and it's difficult to do that within the same budget."

The money would go to the new common core digital curriculum which will implemented to all grades next school year.

"Right now we don't have the books or the tools that we can effectively teach those they're so new.  So with the common core digital curriculum its making sure the teachers have the tools to teach our students and that students have the, not necessarily textbooks, but the content to be able to learn the new standards," said Kunz.

"I think we have to worry about our strategies and how we're going to fund them and how we're going to adjust," said Wesley Lo, Board of Education, Finance Committee Chair.  "It's sort of a dance right now. We have to see where the funding will really end up and see where the Department can find the savings."

It's not just state cuts.  The DOE is also concerned about losing more than $10 million in federal grant money from sequestration cuts.  Money that was in part used for things like special education and low income subsidies.

"We're going to have to see how we deal with that. It's early on. Sequestration is still kind of an unknown to us right now," said Lo.

Meanwhile the State Senate is now discussing the budget.  Ways and Means Chair David Ige says he has a bit more luxury than the House did because of an added $300 million from the recent Council on Revenues report.

"I would just say this that the pressure to cut or reduce the budget is not as significant as we look at it as it was for the house," said David Ige, (D) Ways & Means Committee Chair. "For the first time at least that I've been involved with the budget process the Senate does have the benefit of the improving economy."

There is still plenty of work to do before the budget assignment is complete.

"We are going to have to be looking at which programs get additional funds and which ones we decide not to fund."

There are also differing viewpoints on the Board of Education.  Some want to come up with a plan B just in case the state budgets cuts come through, while others say that would be a self-fulfilling prophecy.


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