HONOLULU (HawaiiNewsNow) - Governor Neil Abercrombie submitted his Executive Supplemental Budget for the Fiscal Biennium 2013-2015, along with the updated Program and Financial Plan for 2013-2019 to the state Legislature Monday.
"The supplemental budget and plan continue responsible management of state fiscal affairs in order to build upon the $1.1 billion turnaround our state has achieved," Gov. Abercrombie said.
While the state has a current $844 million surplus, the Governor wants to guard against spending too much, or too freely. However, the administration does want added spending in several areas.
"We recognize that Hawaii's improved fiscal position allows us to better address important issues such as early learning and development, support for our seniors, environmental protection, and homelessness" Abercrombie said.
The administration also wants to build reserves. State Finance Director Kalbert Young said the state wants to build reserves to 10 percent of general fund revenues.
"These reserves will allow the state to weather future economic downturns and mitigate against cyclical public service cutbacks" he added.
While the Legislature still needs to review the supplemental budget in full, it had some initial impressions.
House Finance Chair Sylvia Luke said "I think this is a time for us to look at a cautious approach in how we have been doing our budget. Last year we took a slow approach and evaluated each item the administration was proposing, and we're going to take the same approach.
Luke pointed to the past as an example for her reasoning.
"In 2007 we were sitting on about 700 million dollars in surplus. In 2009 we were in about a 2 billion dollar deficit. We were forced to do furlough Fridays, we were forced to raise fees and taxes, cut services, and we're still feeling some of the devastation from what happened in 2009".
In a media release, the administration outlined some of the proposed spending increases.
Investments in Hawaii's Children
More than $5.4 million additional for early learning and development initiatives, a priority of the administration. Approximately $4.4 million of that would aid the Executive Office on Early Learning in working with the Hawaii Department of Education (DOE) to establish prekindergarten classes on DOE campuses, and $1 million would fund Family-Child Interaction Learning (FCIL) programs for family engagement for four-year-olds.
$2.5 million more proposed for Preschool Open Doors. The new voluntary program administered by the state Department of Human Services enhances access to school readiness services for 4-year-old children, with priority extended to underserved or at-risk keiki and those who are not eligible to attend public school kindergarten in the school year they turn 5 because their birth date occurs after the kindergarten eligibility date.
Support for Seniors
More than $4.5 million requested for programs that support older residents, of which $4.2 million is proposed for the Kupuna Care program and $427,937 for Adult Disability Resource Centers.
An additional $40 million for conservation purposes at Turtle Bay, as proposed by the Turtle Bay working group last month. The working group was established by Senate Concurrent Resolution (SCR164) during the 2013 legislative session and tasked with developing a conservation action plan to explore and identify conservation alternatives for the undeveloped portions of the Turtle Bay property and surrounding lands with conservation or historic value.
$1.5 million requested for the Housing First program to assist the most vulnerable of Hawaii's homeless.
Ten positions and $1 million to expand Healthcare Transformation initiatives.
Restoration of eight positions and an additional $188,269 for the Hawaii Department of Agriculture within the department's pesticides program.
$3.1 million for Lt. Gov. Shan Tsutsui's R.E.A.C.H. Initiative for afterschool programs for middle and intermediate afterschool programs
Approximately $33.5 million to the University of Hawaii, whose Board of Regents committed a portion of such funds towards issuance of revenue bonds for addressing much needed repair and maintenance projects. This amount represents collectively bargained salaries for the University of Hawaii Professional Assembly salaries. But, instead of paying for the salaries out of the tuition special fund, which only affects tuition rates, the funds will free up resources so that the tuition fund remains stable and assists UH's repair and maintenance $400 million backlog.