By CATHY BUSSEWITZ
HONOLULU (AP) - Hawaii lawmakers have advanced a $12 billion state budget out of committee after making tough choices about everything from capital improvement projects and nonprofit grant requests.
The budget advanced Friday by a conference committee of Senate and House lawmakers slashes $92 million from the fiscal 2014 budget and another $65 million from 2015.
The move was one of many maneuvers at the Hawaii Legislature in an atmosphere ranging from laughter to chaos, with legislators tackling a mountain of difficult bills.
All bills that require funding have to move out of committees on Friday or die. And many of the toughest decisions were saved until the bitter end.
In one hearing Friday morning, committee members laughed when a fire alarm interrupted a lawmaker's speech on a bill.