HONOLULU – As a result of declining state revenues, today Governor Linda Lingle vetoed 10 bills that would have spent funds not included in the state budget and which would further widen the state’s budget shortfall. The Governor’s vetoes highlight the fact that the state cannot afford these programs, even those that have merit, during this difficult fiscal period.
“We cannot enact legislation using money we simply do not have,” Governor Lingle said. “Once we regain our financial footing I am willing to work with the Legislature to fund projects that help the public, but such funding should be included as a part of the State’s annual budget.”
The 10 vetoes cover areas as diverse as using unemployment funds for projects other than paying benefits to workers, using State funds to give more money to hospitals, and requiring changes to school buildings that would increase construction costs by 8 to 15 percent.
These 10 bills would increase state expenditures by as much as $17.5 million. In addition, one bill could increase the Department of Education’s construction costs by $25 million to $30 million per year. Another bill would require the Department of Public Safety to build a facility costing upwards of $80 million.
The State is currently facing a budget gap of $2.8 billion between now and June 30, 2011. When the Legislature passed these bills, the state was already facing a $2 billion revenue shortfall. Since the Legislature adjourned on May 1, the Council on Revenues reduced its revenue projections on May 28 by an additional $730 million, and just this week, the actual year-end revenue collections came in even lower, increasing the budget shortfall by an additional $56.7 million. The Council on Revenues could further lower revenue projections when it meets again in August and January.
The Lingle-Aiona Administration has already taken steps to close $2 billion of the budget gap through spending restrictions, restructuring debt, utilizing federal stimulus funds, tapping into special fund accounts, and placing a freeze on most hiring, travel and equipment purchases. The Governor has proposed labor savings to help close a major part of the remaining gap of $786 million.
Specifically, the 10 bills are:
- SB 1665 SD2 HD1 CD1 which would use $2.4 million in unemployment insurance benefit funds for community colleges to operate skilled worker and business development centers.
- HB 36 HD1 SD2 CD1 which would allow up to $2.1 million to be diverted from the general fund to the Health Special fund for sanitation inspectors.
- HB 343 HD1 SD2 CD1 which would send $140,000 in general funds to the University of Hawai‘i to develop a rural health care training program.
- HB 982 HD3 SD1 CD1 which would use $10,000 from the Department of Labor and Industrial Relations’ Special Disability Benefits fund for a family leave data collection system.
- HB 986 HD1 SD1 CD1 which would increase public school facilities construction costs by 8 to 15 percent.
- HB 989 HD1 SD2 CD1 which would spend $400,000 in general funds for a children’s health care program that was terminated in 2008 because most of the funds were providing free, taxpayer-subsidized health insurance for children whose family had previously been paying for their health insurance.
- HB 1504 HD1 SD2 CD1 which diverts $50,000 from the State Health Planning and Development Special Fund to develop a universal health care plan when $200,000 was already spent in 2006 to prepare a report on this same issue.
- HB 358 HD1 SD1 CD1 which would require the existence of a secure drug treatment facility in Hawai‘i when none currently exists and funds are not available to build one.
- SB 266 SD2 HD2 CD1 which diverts $100,000 from the Tourism Special Fund for a Climate Change Task Force that duplicates much of the work of the existing Greenhouse Gases Task Force.
- SB 423 SD1 HD2 CD1 which appropriates $12.3 million in general funds to match federal funding to make payments to hospitals in Hawai‘i.
“If we were not facing the most severe budget crisis in State history, I would have been able to support some of these bills,” the Governor said.
On June 30, 2009 Governor Lingle issued a list of 65 bills passed during the 2009 Legislative session that she is reviewing for potential veto action. These ten measures were on that list. The Governor has until July 15, 2009 to determine if she will veto any of the measures.
The Governor’s statements of objections regarding these ten vetoed bills are attached and also can be found on the Governor’s website at: www.hawaii.gov/gov/initiatives/veto. The full potential veto list is also posted on the Governor’s website.