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Saturday, May 6, 2023
Dela Cruz News: Conference Committee Sneaks $200M Slush Fund into Budget
By Andrew Walden @ 7:48 AM :: 2652 Views :: Ethics, Hawaii State Government

by Andrew Walden

True to form, the Hawaii State Legislature's HB300 budget Conference Committee, with Senator Donovan Dela Cruz riding herd, May 4, 2023, slipped in huge last minute budget entries creating a $200M slush fund to be administered by Governor Green.  These last-minute changes emerged from the HB300 (State Budget) Conference Committee without any public hearing or testimony.  None of these items appeared in previous budget versions. 

The effect? 

Apparently the Governor is becoming the appropriator--constitutionally a function of the Legislature. 

Without actually explaining the source of the funds, a news release from the Governor's office indicates $30M will go to HTA. 

A media account says $50M may go towards bloating up the Aloha Stadium project:  "During the budget debate, it was called a potentially illegal 'slush fund' by former Majority Leader Della Belatti.  'It’s based on a practice far worse than even the gut and replace practice that has been determined to be unconstitutional,' Belatti said on the House floor."

HB300 requires the Governor to ‘provide notice’ to the legislature when appropriating any of the $200M. 

Why? 

Is the legislature going to act as the executive by calling a special session and vote to ‘veto’ the governor’s expenditure? 

There is no language authorizing the legislature to veto or cancel a gubernatorially-mandated expenditure.

All of this is unconstitutional.  It is also reminiscent of the Honolulu Police Commssion 'voting' to give Chief Kealoha $250,000 without the legally-required approval of the Honolulu Council.  How has that worked out for the Police Commissioners and the Caldwell administration officials who pushed through the Kealoha payout?

  *   *   *   *   *

HB300--CONFERENCE COMMITTEE REPORT NO. 190 

From Conference Committee, May 4, 2023 

“The Conference Draft of the executive budget includes the following major adjustments:…Department of Budget and Finance…Adding $200,000,000 for deferred maintenance statewide.”

  *   *   *   *   *

Editor’s Note: Logically, these are the funds Green is expected to siphon, but there is no language restricting him to these funds.  These funds appeared only in the final Conference Committee version of the budget.  The next item explains how the Governor can siphon the funds away from their designate purpose.

  *   *   *   *   *

PART III. PROGRAM APPROPRIATION PROVISIONS

from pg 51 of HB300 HD1, SD1, CD1 as enrolled to the Governor May 4, 2023  (No similar provision was written in to HD1 nor SD1.)

SECTION 5. Any provision of this Act to the contrary notwithstanding, the governor is authorized to transfer up to $200,000,000 in general funds appropriated in department administration and budget division (BUF101) in this Act to other state agencies for government operations; provided that the governor shall provide notice to the legislature 14 days prior to the date of transfer and submit a report to the legislature within five days of each use of this authority; provided further that the report shall include the date of transfer, the amount of the transfer, the program ID from which funds were transferred, the program ID to which funds were transferred, the impact to the program ID funds are transferred from, and a detailed explanation of the public purposes served by the transfer of resources; and provided further that the governor shall submit to the legislature a summary report containing the aforementioned information for each use of this authority for the previous twelve month period from December 1 to November 30 no later than thirty days prior to the convening of the regular sessions of 2024 and 2025.

HB300: Text, Status

LINK: Hawaii State Constitution

PDF: BUF101 pg 4

HB300 HD1, SD1, CD1 VOTES CAST:

4/25/2023 S The Conference committee recommends that the measure be PASSED, WITH AMENDMENTS. The votes of the Senate Conference Managers were as follows: 13 Aye(s): Senator(s) Dela Cruz, Keith-Agaran, Aquino, DeCoite, Inouye, Kanuha, Kidani, Kim, Lee, Moriwaki, Shimabukuro, Wakai, Fevella; Aye(s) with reservations: none ; 0 No(es): none; and 0 Excused: none.

4/25/2023 H The Conference Committee recommends that the measure be Passed, with Amendments. The votes were as follows: 16 Ayes: Representative(s) Yamashita, Aiu, Chun, Cochran, Garrett, Kahaloa, Kila, Kitagawa, Kobayashi, Lamosao, Morikawa, Nishimoto, Poepoe, Takenouchi, Alcos, Ward; Ayes with reservations: none; 0 Noes: none; and 0 Excused: none.

5/4/2023 H Passed Final Reading as amended in CD 1 with Representative(s) Amato, Garcia, Poepoe, Tam, Ward, Woodson voting aye with reservations; Representative(s) Belatti, Cochran, Ganaden, Hussey-Burdick, Kapela, Perruso, Pierick, Souza voting no (8) and Representative(s) Lowen, Martinez excused (2).

5/4/2023 S Passed Final Reading, as amended (CD 1) Ayes, 25; Aye(s) with reservations: none. Noes, 0 (none). Excused, 0 (none).

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