Hawaii’s $25 Billion State Budget Passes House, Moves to Senate – The State of Reform

The Hawaii House of Representatives voted unanimously on Wednesday to pass Bill 1600 HD1, the Executive branch budget. This supplementary budget includes approximately $8.5 million in general funds and $16.6 billion in all means funding.

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House Finance Committee Chairwoman Rep. Sylvia Luke (D – Makiki) hailed the budget, especially as the state faced a deficit of nearly $3 billion in the two last years.

“This year we are seeing a completely different fiscal scenario,” she said in a statement. “After the Governor submitted his budget to the Legislative Assembly, the Revenue Council updated its revenue projections twice. What we have today is an unprecedented opportunity to address many unmet needs within the state with a strategic, forward-thinking approach.

The specific health and social services provisions included in the budget proposal are as follows:

  • “$3,601,533 for additional funding for federally mandated delivery of early intervention services
  • $3,487,633 for additional operating funds for a new forensic building at Hawaii State Hospital.
  • $1,500,000 for Kupuna Care [which provides home care for seniors and their families].
  • Creates a new Program ID (HTH 215/OR) for the Oʻahu Region of the Hawai’i Health Systems Corporation and adds $16,320,700 for an operating grant.
  • Adds $2,236,853 in general funds and $8,249,095 in federal funds for general support for self-sufficiency services to reapply exit and retention bonus payments; establish new sites for after-school and summer programs for eligible youth; and replacing computer equipment in the Benefits, Employment and Support Services Division.
  • Increases Spousal and Child Abuse Special Fund cap by $5,000,000 in Special Funds for Child Protective Services to provide prevention services and programs to minimize the number of children placed in foster care.

Additional funds have been allocated to services that support child welfare, long-term care and incarcerated women.

  • $2,950,036 to create 48 new positions in the Child Protective Services program
  • $5,000,000 to the Women’s Community Correctional Center Admissions Center to assist with reintegration programs and services.
  • $276,000 for five new program specialists across the islands in the Office of the Long-Term Care Ombudsman, which currently relies primarily on volunteers.

The budget bill has now been referred to the Senate Ways and Means Committee. A public hearing is scheduled for March 22.

Norman D. Briggs