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Finance Committee analyzes state's $18.9 billion budgets

Hawaiʻi state House of Representatives jan
Audrey McAvoy/AP
The Hawaiʻi House of Representatives meets on opening day of the legislative session at the Hawaiʻi State Capitol in Honolulu on Wednesday, Jan. 19, 2022. (AP Photo/Audrey McAvoy)

The state's upcoming fiscal year budgets prioritize deferred maintenance, the restoration of programs lost during the pandemic and the increase in the state's reserve funds.

On Wednesday, the House Finance Committee passed along a first draft of Governor Josh Green's biennium $18.9 billion budgets.

The first $9.8 billion general fund budget accompanied by a $2.1 billion capital improvements projects budget for fiscal year 2024, which begins July 1, features expanded homeless services and access to affordable housing.

Highlights across the two years include more than $25 million to address homelessness services and programs, $25 million for clean energy funding, and $36 million to modernize the state's unemployment insurance system.

Finance Chair Rep. Kyle Yamashita of Maui noted that the committee has taken a "judicious, cautious and targeted approach in crafting a sustainable future for Hawaiʻi."

With a surplus of money coming in, the House identified fixing public facilities and state-owned properties as a priority.

"This budget proposes to spend $1.3 billion on deferred maintenance which not only includes a backlog in facilities repair, but our most valuable resource, our natural environment — our parks, forests and ocean resources," Yamashita said in a release.

"The intention is not to immediately spend the money, but to strategically tackle these projects to ensure that the state receives the best value while keeping the projects' timetables in mind,” he said.

Potential cuts may be on the horizon as lower-than-estimated revenue for this upcoming fiscal year have already begun to take shape. While the state is also seeing a $2 billion surplus, the Council on Revenues decreased the state's growth from 5.5% to 2% last week for next fiscal year. That's about $327.8 million.

"This committee will be looking at the numbers and continually analyzing it through the next month well into conference, and we will look forward to working with all of you on this," Yamashita said.

The budget will go before the House floor on Wednesday, before crossing over to the state Senate.

Sabrina Bodon was Hawaiʻi Public Radio's government reporter.
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