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Thursday, March 28, 2024
Senate WAM Approves Budget
By News Release @ 11:42 PM :: 1114 Views :: Hawaii State Government

SENATE COMMITTEE ON WAYS AND MEANS VOTES OUT BUDGET BILL

News Release from Senate Democratic Caucus, March 27, 2024

Honolulu, Hawaiʻi – Today, the Senate Committee on Ways and Means unanimously passed House Bill 1800 Senate Draft 1, the Executive Branch State Budget. The Senate Draft primarily includes appropriations for the State's operating and capital improvement budgets in Fiscal Year 2024-2025, allocating $10,323,624,848 in general funds and $19,099,424,059 in all means of financing. Additionally, due to the August 2023 Maui Wildfires, Ways and Means unanimously approved other emergency appropriation bills, House Bill 679 Senate Draft 2 and House Bill 2610 Senate Draft 2, to allocate funding to address ongoing and escalating costs to non-congregate sheltering, development of temporary and permanent housing, and other needs. To increase public transparency of the legislative and budgetary process, proposed drafts of House Bill 679 Senate Draft 2 and House Bill 2610 Senate Draft 2 were posted on the capitol website in advance of today's hearing, and include reporting requirements for when the funds are ultimately spent. The Committee on Ways and Means passed Senate Drafts of these bills to show as comprehensive a picture as possible of what the Green Administration has requested in relation to the August 2023 Wildfires.

To support the initial anticipated costs for the State to address the August 2023 Wildfires, the Green Administration moved $164 million into the Major Disaster Fund from other departments and $30 million from the Governor's Discretionary Fund to provide a total of $200 million to cover expenses in Fiscal Year 2023-2024. However, costs have quickly escalated, primarily for non-congregate sheltering. The State's contract with the American Red Cross went from $200 million in August, to $300 million in September, to $400 million in November, and to $500 million in February 2024. This increasing cost, as well as the State's decision to provide extended sheltering for FEMA ineligible households beyond the Safe Harbor period, has resulted in drastically increased costs to the State.

The Department of Budget and Finance typically limits Executive Departments spending by five percent as an accounting best practice. During an Informational Briefing held by the Committee on February 29, the Department of Budget and Finance informed the Committee that it would be using the restricted five percent on Department budgets to cover the shortfall of funds that the Administration has initially projected for Maui recovery. On March 5, in Governor's Message 4, Governor Green requested an additional $297 million in Fiscal Year 2023-2024 to cover non-congregate sheltering for households that may be FEMA ineligible, as well as another $65 million for the State's share of the One ʻOhana Trust Fund. As the Committee voted today, the Administration had not yet set forward a plan to move households out of non-congregate sheltering or to fund non-congregate sheltering beyond June 2024. The Committee noted that should non-congregate sheltering continue beyond June, the State will have to continue to cover one hundred percent of the cost for FEMA ineligible households if families are not transitioned into temporary and permanent housing options.

Today was not the first time that Ways and Means or the Senate has taken action on bills relating to wildfire recovery. Earlier this session, the full Senate passed Senate Bill 582 Senate Draft 2 and Senate Bill 3068 Senate Draft 1 and moved each to the House as potential funding vehicles for wildfire recovery. Both bills have yet to be scheduled by the House Committee on Finance.

Developing a state budget that addresses the immediate and future needs associated with wildfire recovery efforts is a nuanced and complex undertaking. House Bill 1800 Senate Draft 1 is the culmination of diligent work by the Ways and Means Committee and various stakeholders to align the State's position to support the wildfire survivors and the future development of West Maui. Additionally, the Committee recognized that numerous other priorities necessitate funding via the budget bill as well, and Senate Majority priorities relating to Emergency Preparedness, Recovery and Resilience; Workforce Development and Education; Economic Development and Infrastructure; Agriculture, Environment, and Natural Resource Management; and Housing and Homelessness were included in House Bill 1800 Senate Draft 1. The Senate Draft lays out an executive budget that creates a responsive, proactive, and cost-effective state government that stabilizes essential services and programs to address the needs of our most vulnerable residents, while ensuring a solid financial future should the State be faced with another unforeseen disaster.

"The Senate continues to prioritize investments that safeguard our island home and diversify our economy and workforce to reverse the brain drain," said Senator Donovan M. Dela Cruz (Senate District 17, portion of Mililani, Mililani Mauka, portion of Waipiʻo Acres, Launani Valley, Wahiawā, Whitmore Village), Chair of the Senate Committee on Ways and Means. "The Senate budget prioritizes diversifying our economy and making strategic investments into our state's infrastructure to facilitate the development of more affordable housing for our local residents."

"The Capital Improvements Projects (CIP) section of HB1800 SD1 also includes projects that align with the priorities the Senate," said Senator Sharon Y. Moriwaki (Senate District 12, Waikīkī, Ala Moana, Kaka‘ako, McCully), Vice Chair of the Senate Committee on Ways and Means. "The CIP Budget prioritizes the development and rehabilitation of critical infrastructure and facilities, focusing on repairs to promote the health and safety of Hawaiʻi's residents. At the same time, the Senate Draft includes funds to address the needs of the Maui wildfire recovery efforts."

Highlights for the operating budget from the Senate Draft include the following:

Department of Agriculture

Increase the Animal Quarantine Special Fund ceiling by $733,076 for IT improvements to the Animal Integration System

Add $1,000,000 for the Farm to Food Bank Program

Add $1,000,000 for DaBux Program

Increase the trust fund ceiling by $93,434 for a Grant Writer salary

Add $52,500 as non-recurring for critical software upgrades

Department of Accounting and General Services

Add $2,500,000 for Microsoft G5 licenses

Add $1,650,000 to replace the State’s Financial System

Add $400,000 for menstrual products and dispensers

Add $1,000,000 as non-recurring for increase in electricity cost

Add $470,000 for telecommunications radio site leases, maintenance, and operations

Add $17,000,000 for State Risk Management Revolving Fund

Department of the Attorney General

Add $2,456,750 for Career Criminal and Victim Witness Assistance Programs

Add 4.0 positions and $693,375 for the Hawaiʻi Correctional System Oversight Commission

Add 4.0 positions and $336,800 for the Civil Recoveries Division

Add $266,648 for the Criminal Justice Division

Department of Business, Economic Development, and Tourism

Add 30.0 positions and $63,000,000 for the Hawaiʻi Tourism Authority

Increase Convention Center Special Fund ceiling by $45,000,000 as non-recurring for deferred maintenance

Increase Aloha Stadium Special Fund ceiling by $49,500,000 as non-recurring for operations and development

Add 2.0 positions and $230,230 for property and water system management on Kauaʻi

Increase Creative Industries Special Fund ceiling by $475,000 for State-County Memorandum of Agreements

Department of Budget and Finance

Increase the Unclaimed Property Trust Fund ceiling by $4,000,000 for disbursement of payments

Add $13,356,628 for broadband federal matching

Add $126,000 as non-recurring for the procurement of a case management software for the office of the public defender

Department of Commerce and Consumer Affairs

Increase special fund ceiling by $1,175,000 for increase in operating costs

Increase special fund ceiling by $2,500,000 as non-recurring for website redesign and call center

Increase special fund ceiling by $550,000 as non-recurring for cloud migration and data center closure

Department of Defense

Add $6,919,624 for Hazard Mitigation and $24,700,000 in matching Federal funds

Add $1,430,900 as non-recurring for utilities cost at Joint Base Pearl Harbor-Hickam, Kauaʻi, and Kalaeloa

Add $497,000 as non-recurring for utilities at Hawaiʻi Army National Guard facilities statewide

Add $139,909 for State Warning Point and sirens

Add $7,000 as non-recurring for utilities at Starbase

Department of Education

Add $12,931,380 as non-recurring for the Weighted Student Formula to support English learners

Add $413,915 as non-recurring for AP exam and course subsidies

Add $3,600,000 to provide work-based learning for students with severe disabilities

Add $20,990,000 as non-recurring for summer learning hubs

Add $15,000,000 as non-recurring for electricity

Add $5,000,000 for security

Add $18,000,000 for food services

Add $18,266,346 for bus contracts

Add $10,000,000 for workers’ compensation

Add $14,925,959 for collective bargaining for vice principals and educational assistants

Add $2,500,000 for career and technical education teacher differentials

Add $1,700,000 to enhance the Department's mobile platforms that provide student mental health support

Office of the Governor

Reduce 2.0 vacant positions and $176,816

Department of Hawaiian Home Lands

Increase the federal fund ceiling by $808,204 for 6.0 Temporary Native American Housing Assistance and Self-Determination Act (NAHASDA) positions

Department of Human Services

Add a total of $213,979,324 in non-general funded ceiling increases for federally mandated services

Add $15,525,000 for Home and Community Based Service contract increases

Add $1,320,000 for a 5% increase to Homeless Programs Office contracts

Add $1,000,000 for youth mental health services

Add $543,677 for maintenance and operation of the Benefits Eligibility Solution System

Add $1,500,000 as non-recurring for the State Rent Supplement Program

Add 2.0 positions and $252,360 to put the Deputy Director and Private Secretary into base budget

Department of Human Resources Development

Add 7.0 positions and $872,112 to expedite the hiring process and increase recruitment efforts

Add 1.0 position and $35,508 for the employee benefits and telework programs

Add $20,000 for employee training

Transfer 1.0 position and $260,352 in FY24; and 1.0 position and $262,116 in FY25 for workers’ compensation services for the Hawaiʻi State Public Library System

Department of Health

Add $29,000,000 for emergency aeromedical services

Add $14,800,000 as non-recurring for bed contracts for the Hawaiʻi State Hospital

Add $13,000,000 as non-recurring for Locum Tenens contracts at the Hawaiʻi State Hospital

Add $10,800,000 for Child and Adolescent Mental Health contracts

Add $8,880,000 for new and existing Group Home contracts

Add $6,657,400 for the ʻIwilei Behavioral Health Crisis Center and supportive housing services

Add $4,962,487 for early intervention services

Add $2,878,240 for Emergency Medical Services collective bargaining contracts

Add $2,500,000 as non-recurring for Kīnaʻu Hale asbestos remediation and professional services

Add 10.0 Forensic Psychologists and $971,119 for court evaluations for Hawaiʻi State Hospital admissions and referrals

Add 1.0 Plumber, 1.0 General Laborer, and $61,278 for Kalaupapa Settlement

Department of Law Enforcement

Add 50.0 positions and $6,567,591 to increase law enforcement at airports and harbors

Add $2,600,000 to continue security guard services and security camera monitoring

Add $1,500,000 for the Law Enforcement Training Center

Add $1,265,600 to continue the Illegal Firework Task Force

Add $825,000 as non-recurring for the Gun Buyback Program

Department of Labor and Industrial Relations

Add $10,000,000 for Grants-in-Aid pursuant to Chapter 42F

Increase revolving fund ceiling by $51,914 to provide pay equity for 3.0 Boiler Inspectors

Increase federal fund ceiling by $2,200,000 for Unemployment Insurance

Increase special fund ceiling by $300,000 for Labor Law Enforcement Special Fund

Increase federal fund ceiling by $200,000 for Veteran career counseling

Department of Land and Natural Resources

Add $5,500,000 as non-recurring to improve forest and resource management for wildlife and invasive species

Increase State Parks Special Fund ceiling by $2,000,000 as non-recurring for equipment and motor vehicles

Increase State Parks Special Fund ceiling by $10,000,000 for repair and maintenance activities at state parks statewide

Add 7.0 positions and $484,448 for DLNR HR recruitment and retention

Department of Corrections and Rehabilitation

Add $50,000 to establish a Foster Pet Program

Add $434,864 as non-recurring for utilities across various facilities

Department of Taxation

Add 1.0 Senior Software Developer and $63,096

 Add $98,000 for security equipment and vehicle contracts

 Add $11,800 for the Multi-Factor Authentication System

Department of Transportation

Add $5,000,000 as non-recurring for the Stored Property and Debris Removal Program

Increase Special Fund Ceiling by $10,000,000 as non-recurring to renovate airport terminals

Increase Special Fund Ceiling by $3,000,000 for roadside safety maintenance

Increase Special Fund Ceiling by $1,250,000 as non-recurring for Google safety analytics

University of Hawaii

Add $17,526,848 as non-recurring to restore funds from COVID

Add 5.0 positions and $506,555 for CTAHR Extension Agents

Add 6.5 positions and $1,068,821 for a nursing collaboration between UH Mānoa and UH West Oʻahu

Add 4.0 positions and $925,000 for enhancement of the neighbor island health access and pathway program

Add 4.0 positions and $1,208,020 for increased campus safety

Add $3,700,000 as non-recurring for the Promise Program at UH Community Colleges

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