Hawaii Gov. David Ige wants to spend an additional half a billion dollars over the next two years on state government operations.
Lawmakers passed a two-year budget last year, but under the state constitution the governor is permitted to request changes for critical purposes in even numbered years.
Ige is asking for an additional $45 million for pre-K through 12th grade, including salary increases for teachers in hard to staff jobs and locations. He specifically cited special education as an area where the state is deficient.
“I've always believed that the teachers in the classroom are fundamental the most important part of making significant improvements in our public education and this budget highlights that,” the governor, now in his second term, said in announcing his request.
The budget proposal also includes funds to implement numerous other programs like commercial hemp farming, increasing access to high speed internet, and combating Rapid ‘Ohia Death.
The request represents a 0.4% increase in the operating budget for fiscal year 2020 and a 2.4% increase for fiscal fear 2021. Under the state constitution, lawmakers and the governor are required to prepare a balanced budget, unlike the federal government, which runs deficits.
Separately, the state plans to spend $5 billion over the next two years on infrastructure, called capital improvement projects or CIP.
Much of that spending will be funded by issuing government bonds. Ige said that low interest rates and the state’s high credit rating make it an ideal time to invest in everything from roads to schools.
Hawaii’s credit rating was recently upgraded to AA+, the second best rating possible and the state’s highest level ever achieved.
Read the Governor's Supplemental Budget Request Here: