UH’s 2017 legislative recap
From UH News, May 8, 2017
Kalbert Young, UH vice president for budget and finance and chief financial officer, shares his analysis of the 2017 legislative session.
The 2017 legislative session adjourned on May 4, passing hundreds of bills on to the governor for final consideration, many of which impacted the University of Hawaiʻi either directly or indirectly.
The signature initiative for the University of Hawaiʻi in 2017 was to secure funding for Hawaiʻi’s Promise Program—a “last dollar” scholarship program to provide for the unmet needs of qualified University of Hawaiʻi Community College resident students. Working with the governor and the legislature, the program was appropriated $1,829,000 for each year of the fiscal biennium 2018 and 2019. With the governor’s approval of the statewide budget, the university will undertake the process to establish rules and guidelines as to how the program will distribute and qualify applicants.
The university had other funding requests for operations, programs and initiatives at the 2017 legislature. At the end of the legislative session, many of these were not funded, but there were some areas that did receive funding support and, others that were funded which the university did not initiate or originally request. The legislature was challenged to meet statewide funding requests of departments because there were many competing factors impacting the state’s budget. These included funding for collective bargaining cost items for all 14 bargaining units, general excise tax allocations to fund Oʻahu’s rail project and many other high profile issues.
The biennium budget bill (HB 100), along with the many other bills that passed the legislature, now moves to the governor for his consideration. The table below compares the UH items in the operating budget, as requested by the Board of Regents with those that were ultimately included in the final conference draft of the budget bill that is awaiting the governor’s approval.
In general, I believe the university fared pretty well in legislative attention in the budget. Granted, much of the UH’s original request was not funded, but the areas that were funded give the university some support to continue its movement of improvements.
Also included in the budget was funding for the University of Hawaiʻi System to address capital improvement projects and deferred maintenance, which is a major concern of UH. The state budget appropriated a total of $159.8 million in general obligation bonds for the following projects:
UH is extremely thankful and appreciative to the legislature for the support they provided for these capital needs across the UH System. A lot of work still needs to be done and additional funding will still need to be appropriated in order to reduce UH’s deferred maintenance backlog. But, like the operating budget appropriations, the level of capital funding is enough that UH could make some level of progress on modernizing some of its campuses’ facilities.
The governor has until July 11, 2017 to either sign, veto, or allow bills to become law without his signature.