The Hawaii House of Representatives passed legislation Wednesday for the operating expenses of the executive branch for the supplemental fiscal year that begins July 1.

House Bill 1700 now goes to the state Senate for its tinkering. Differences will be worked out in conference committee in late April before it is sent back to Gov. David Ige for his consideration.

“The budget passed by the House represents a measured approach to balancing the needs of our departments statewide in this supplemental year of the biennium,” House Speaker Joe Souki of Maui said in a statement. “While being fiscally prudent, we also sought to take care of the core needs of the state both for the long and short term so that we are not a ‘penny wise; pound foolish.’”

House Speaker Joe Souki.
House Speaker Joe Souki. Cory Lum/Civil Beat

Republican Gene Ward voted against the bill, Republican Bob McDermott voted in favor but with reservations and Democrat Sam Kong was absent due to illness.

Ward opposed the bill because it does not award the Department of Hawaiian Home Lands an additional $19 million above its current funding of $9.6 million.

“I will vote against this until they make it the full $28 million as ordered by the court and as mandated in the Constitution, which says Hawaiian Home Lands shall be funded sufficiently,” he said. “Otherwise they will take it back to court and there will be another uprising of the blue T-shirts. We’ve got to do the right thing and stop dragging our feet. It grieves me to see Souki sticking it in the eyes of Hawaiians.”

The blue T-shirts refers to supporters of DHHL funding that have shown their colors around the Capitol.

But Rep. Jared Keohokalole, a Democrat, suggested it was hypocritical of Ward to be complain about DHHL funding now.

“Gene voted for Republican budgets when Gov. Linda Lingle kept DHHL at zero funding,” he said. “That’s what led to the lawsuit. Where were all the floor speeches back then? Nine million is a lot more than zero.”

Among highlights, HB 1700 includes $6.33 billion for capital improvement costs, known as CIP. Here’s a few:

  • $60 million to address health and safety conditions at Aloha Stadium
  • $10 million for plans, acquisition and design for agricultural land on Oahu
  • $30.2 million for new combined support maintenance shop complex  at Keaukaha Military Reservation for Hawaii Army National Guard
  • $37.5 million to Kihei High School (Maui) for construction of phase II

HB 1700 also puts some figures with dollar signs on efforts to help the homeless and create more affordable housing:

  • $25 million to the Rental Housing Revolving Fund for affordable rental housing statewide
  • $12.5 million to the Dwelling Unit Revolving Fund for affordable housing statewide
  • $4.2 million to provide low-income housing tax credit loans
  • $4.1 million for public housing development, improvements and renovations statewide

Prisons are also a priority of the Legislature:

  • $200.7 million for new Maui Community Correctional Center
  • $54 million for plans, design and ground work for a new facility at Oahu Community Correctional Center
  • $15 million for new housing and offices at Kauai Community Correctional Center
  • $15 million for new support building for Hawaii Community Correctional Center
  • $8 million for new housing offices at Women’s Community Correctional Center
  • $163,965 for expanded electronic monitoring as part of the prison furlough program

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