State leaders, educators and community supporters came out today to call for additional funding for public education. This, in light of the Supreme Court ruling Friday to invalidate a constitutional amendment for that purpose.
Governor David Ige is committed to provide additional funding for public education, including the use of school lands to generate revenue or private-public partnerships. He says the conversation could also include a surcharge on the state’s general excise tax or other revenue sources.
“I’ve been a big proponent for tax modernization. We are about ready to do Roll-Out Four, which deals with personal income tax. At that point, we will have more than $4.5 billion generated off of our new tax system. And, I’ve always believed that that new tax system will give us better data analytics that will generate additional revenues which could be applied to our public school system.”
Department of Education Superintendent Christina Kishimoto says most the DOE’s 2-billion dollar annual budget is spent directly on students and DOE administrative cost savings are a myth.
“Ninety-three percent of all state funds are in schools, in the classroom, either directly in the hands of principals or in shared services like bussing and food. And, so, as we move forward, we really need to look at how we’re going to identify additional funds to address the competitive pay challenge that we have.”
The Hawai’i State Teachers Association, which pushed for the Constitutional Amendment for public school funding, has no specific plan and will be engaging in conversations with all parties. But, House Speaker Scott Saiki said two months ago that the conversation should also include DOE spending practices.
“I just don’t understand why there always seems to be these complaints that the schools lacks sufficient supplies and resources and other kinds of things. I’m not sure if this is a function of not enough money or if it’s also because dollars aren’t spend wisely at the Department of Education.
For HPR News, I’m Wayne Yoshioka.