Big budget surplus means more taxpayer help for nonprofits and those they serve
HONOLULU (HawaiiNewsNow) - State lawmakers are ready to approve a budget that includes nearly $50 million in grants to private groups and organizations around the state.
The new cash flow is a welcome restart.
“We usually spend about $30 million,” said state House Finance Chair Sylvia Luke. “Unfortunately, over the last two years because of COVID, we did not provide any grants to any organization.”
After weathering the pandemic recession, House and Senate leaders this year have agreed on a budget aimed at catching up.
Nearly 180 groups will be getting money for community initiatives, ranging from Ballet Hawaii, to comedian Frank DeLima’s non-profit, the Girl Scouts, Special Olympics, and the Hawaii Symphony.
The Institute for Human Services will get the biggest grant — $1.6 million to establish a so-called homeless triage center to help people get off the streets.
“So we’re wanting to provide a place where they can get cleaned up, they can get some immediate urgent care, some health care, and in some cases they need to be detoxed,” said IHS Executive Director Connie Mitchell.
Hawaii’s homeless population is projected to increase in the next four to five years as the post-pandemic travel boom brings some visitors who don’t have a place to stay.
“And some of those always are some of the folks who are experiencing homelessness as well,” said Mitchell.
The legislature also wants to expand Ohana Zone programs for the homeless and fund more affordable housing.
The state’s homeless coordinator says it’s the right time to do it.
“I think it’s good that we have all this additional resource in our community right now, and we want to make sure we’re taking advantage of it,” said Scott Morishige.
Each Hawaii taxpayer may also get some of the surplus. Lawmakers will act Friday on a $300 rebate for every taxpayer who makes less than $100,000 a year.
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