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State budget proposal has significant allocations for child welfare programs

Ryan Finnerty/Hawaii Public Radio

The state Senate Ways and Means Committee approved a version of Gov. David Ige’s proposed fiscal year 2022-2023 operating budget on Thursday.

Senators approved House Bill 1600 with several amendments which included significant allocations toward child welfare programs, investigations on white-collar crimes, environmental conservation, and agricultural initiatives.

Senate Ways and Means Chair Donovan Dela Cruz said the proposed supplemental budget sees concessions between the state Senate and House.

“We were in agreement with the House that we needed to provide Child Welfare Services additional resources,” he said Thursday. “The House took the position to add additional positions to that section. The Senate agreed with the concept, but what we did was we added a couple more positions and added additional funds for pay differential so that the department could actually recruit and retain employees in that section.”

The $20.15 billion FY23 proposed budget, which includes a $9.2 billion operating budget, takes advantage of the state’s economic rebound and increases in tax revenues.

“The Senate approached this supplemental budget with the intent to create a responsible financial plan that includes a budget that incorporates strategies to improve the State's credit rating and borrowing power and both restores and increases funding for critical services and programs,” Dela Cruz said in a release.

Dela Cruz also pointed to modernizing government as a key component of this budget.

“We added monies for digitization, upgrading our IT and infrastructure,” Dela Cruz said. “We really want to make or provide resources for the departments to become more efficient to upgrade their technology so that we can provide better services to our constituents.

The budget will move to the full Senate for a second reading on Tuesday, April 12. The fiscal year begins July 1.

Sabrina Bodon was Hawaiʻi Public Radio's government reporter.
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