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.
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: