The House voted unanimously Wednesday in favor of its draft of the overall state budget, a $25.7 billion spending plan for the next two years.

The Senate Ways and Means Committee, chaired by Jill Tokuda, will take up House Bill 500 and make whatever changes it sees fit before sending it to the full Senate for its approval.

Differences between the House and Senate versions will be ironed out later next month in a joint conference committee.

Hawaii State Capitol building w/ Father Damien Statue. 2 jan 2015. photograph Cory Lum/Civil Beat

A statue of Father Damien in front of the Hawaii Capitol.

Cory Lum/Civil Beat

The House Finance Committee, chaired by Sylvia Luke, snipped $226 million off Gov. David Ige’s initial request when it was heard last week. And the administration’s budget request was $300 million less than what departments sought.

“While the state’s economy seems to be trending upward, we will continue our cautious approach to budgeting, even as we take care of our long-term unfunded liabilities and important CIP projects,” House Speaker Joe Souki said in a release.

The budget includes $1.47 billion for fiscal 2016, which starts July 1, and $755.3 million for 2017 for capital improvement projects throughout the state. Of the total, the release says $689.9 million go to CIP projects on Oahu, $165.1 million to Maui County, $201.7 million for Big Island and $60.57 million for Kauai.

“Whether we’re talking about CIP or operating funds, our mindset in the House remains the same: to spend within our means as a matter of consistent practice,” Luke said in the release.

“In the case of capital expenditures, we also need to consider that the money we use today on much needed repairs and maintenance — and in some cases to build a new facility — can in the long run save us money. Like our unfunded liabilities, delaying spending would be akin to kicking the proverbial can down the road. How we balance the needs of today and tomorrow defines wise spending.”

The state financial plan shows the state will be spending more money than it is taking in until 2018, relying on its carryover balance to cover the gap.

The Council on Revenues slightly upgraded its fiscal forecast for the state last week, predicting 5.5 percent growth for the next four years. But even so, that only amounts to roughly $55.7 million in additional revenue this fiscal year.

The state budget bill doesn’t include funding for all state programs and services. There are separate bills that lawmakers have introduced to support programs they feel should have been included.

For instance, Good Beginnings Alliance, an education nonprofit, is calling on lawmakers to restore $6 million in funding for the Preschool Open Doors program, which provides childcare subsidies to eligible families for the year before their child enters kindergarten. The House is considering a measure that would appropriate an unspecified sum to the program.

Here are some highlights from the House draft of the state budget bill:

  • $400,000 to create the Office of Grant Maximization to pursue federal grants for the state
  • $100,000 for the Office of Information Practices to assist with Information Technology issues
  • $2.4 million for the Weighted Student Formula to be distributed to schools statewide
  • $1 million in FY2016 to support student travel to academic and arts national competitions
  • $2.9 million in FY2016 and $2.5 million in FY2017 to cover the Food Service program shortfall
  • $220,812 and four positions for the Pesticides Branch for pesticides enforcement on Oahu, Maui and Kauai
  • $3 million in FY2016 and $3.5 million in FY2017 to improve the stability of the state’s Information Technology infrastructure
  • $500,000 which will enable the Department of the Attorney General to fill up to nine vacant positions
  • $250,000 to support the Beijing and Taipei state offices
  • $1.94 million in FY2016 for the Veteran’s Cemetery for storm drain and walkway repairs, and the purchase of various pieces of heavy equipment
  • $2.6 million to maintain DHS’ current general assistance monthly payment level at $349
  • $1.5 million in general funds for FY2016 to continue the Housing First Program pilot program
  • $3 million for the Hawaii State Hospital to address budget shortfalls due to high patient counts
  • $75,000 for a state sustainability coordinator
  • $1 million for the state Parks Division for repairs and maintenance of facilities
  • $36.7 million in FY2016 and $35.4 million in FY2017 to address special maintenance projects at the airports, statewide. This includes runway re-pavement, terminal renovations, interior upgrades, bathroom restorations, replacement fire alarms, and building repairs
  • $921,000 to maintain zipper lane operations
  • $50 million to the Rental Housing Trust Fund to finance additional affordable rental housing statewide
  • $1.52 million for the addition, replacement and upgrade of state civil defense warning and communications equipment
  • $62.81 million for the construction of a new veterans long term care facility in Oahu
  • $4.12 million for the expansion of the cafeteria at Castle High School
  • $10 million for the modernization of the Farrington High School campus
  • $40 million for plans, design and construction for various Hawaiian homestead projects and improvements statewide
  • $32 million for Hawaii Health System Corporation hospitals for repair and maintenance, upgrades and improvements
  • $55 million to continue funding for construction of the Kona Judiciary Complex
  • $7 million total for the Waikiki beach maintenance
  • $21 million for improvements at Kahului Harbor

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