Hawaii House passes budget bill avoiding deep program cuts

Hawaii House passes budget bill avoiding deep program cuts
Drone shot of the state capitol (File). (Source: Hawaii News Now)

HONOLULU (AP) — The Hawaii House of Representatives passed a two-year budget for the state that avoids deep cuts to programs like sex assault treatment and tuberculosis control.

The House on Wednesday approved the budget with yes votes from all 50 members present. The bill now goes to the Senate.

When the coronavirus pandemic hit last year, lawmakers were looking at the possibility that an enormous budget deficit would necessitate dramatic spending cuts or tax increases. Since then, the economy has improved modestly and the federal government has supplied states with large pots of relief money.

The House budget doesn’t rely on funds from tax increases. It does include $1.6 billion from the Biden administration’s COVID-19 relief bill.

The budget cut costs by eliminating vacant positions and merging or restructuring some government offices.

It also reduced the amount the appropriated to the Department of Public Safety for a contract to house prisoners at a private prison in Arizona to encourage the department to keep more inmates in Hawaii.

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