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Thursday, April 15, 2021
2021 UH Legislative Update, including proposed budget cuts
By News Release @ 6:42 PM :: 2970 Views :: Hawaii State Government, Higher Education, COVID-19

2021 legislative update, including proposed budget cuts

From UH News, April 15, 2021

Kalbert Young, University of Hawaiʻi vice president for budget and finance and chief financial officer, shares his analysis of the 2021 legislative session to date.

The 2021 legislative session has moved quickly this year, with a calendar of 55 days vs. 60 days in a typical year, online protocols for hearings and limited in-person access due to COVID-19 restrictions. Still, there are a number of measures of interest to the University of Hawaiʻi that I would like to highlight thus far, as the Legislature nears the final weeks of this year’s session.

This update encompasses the completion of the majority of the legislative calendar for hearings. With a shorter legislative session, the deadlines were also shorter than in past years. As such, I was not able to provide readers with more frequent updates at each legislative milestone as done previously.

In regards to the budget, the budget bill (House Bill 200) crossed over from the House to the Senate on March 24. The Senate Committee on Ways and Means then scheduled its hearing on the budget bill for March 29. The Senate then decked, or finalized, their version of the budget bill on April 7, and the bill returned to the House on April 9, which then begins the conference process.

The special complexities in the budget this year can best be illustrated in the following three tables to provide the macro-level and line item detail comparing the different versions of the university’s operating budget. Seeing the progression of the proposed budget emphasizes the dramatic changes in underlying assumptions regarding the state’s economy and developing federal support that have changed since the Board of Regents approved this budget request in November 2020 and the governor submitted his request in December 2020.

For all machinations of the budget, the university is likely to get less general funding over each of the next two years of the biennium. Many of the reductions are hopefully made up with federal stimulus funding—for the most part.

The following table compares the total general fund budgets for each of the campuses in the board, governor, House and Senate versions of the budget. A peculiar oddity to note in the House and Senate versions of the budget—the House moved the appropriation for the John A. Burns School of Medicine (JABSOM) into Mānoa’s budget, while the Senate kept JABSOM separate, but instead separated the UH Cancer Center into a new budget program ID from UH Mānoa….

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