Honolulu – The University of Hawaii’s new Athletics Director Ben Jay will be talking about his vision for the UH’s sports program at a town hall meeting on Thursday, May 16, 2013. It will take place at Pearl Ridge Elementary School’s cafeteria at 7 p.m.
Recently, Jay sparked controversy among UH fans for his decision to change team names. He’s also brought attention to the poor state of the athletics facilities through twitter.
This will be a great opportunity for our constituents to hear how our new UH athletics director is going to improve the program and his vision for the future,” said Senate President Donna Mercado Kim, who represents District 14(Kapalama, ‘Alewa, Kalihi Valley, Ft. Shafter, Moanalua Gardens & Valley, portions of Halawa and ‘Aiea).
I encourage everyone to attend the town hall meeting to learn about the direction of UH Athletics and use this chance to engage in the discussion relating to the department,” said Sen. David Ige, who represents District 16 (Pearl City, Momilani, Pearlridge, ‘Aiea, Royal Summit, ‘Aiea Heights, Newtown, Waimalu, Halawa, Pearl Harbor).
The town hall is being hosted by lawmakers representing the Aiea and Pearl City areas: Sen. David Y. Ige, Senate President Donna Mercado Kim, Rep. Aaron Johanson, Rep. K. Mark Takai, Rep. Roy Takumi, Rep. Gregg Takayama and City Councilmembers Breene Harimoto and Carol Fukunaga.
House and Senate Conference Leaders Announce $3 Billion in Capital Improvement Projects
Honolulu – Lead Senate and House negotiators on the State Budget bill announced they closed negotiations three days ahead of an internal deadline. Discussions between the Senate and House on finalizing the budget started well ahead of schedule this year, marking a paradigm shift in the approach taken to complete the work of the legislative session.
“The House and Senate committed to working together to finish the budget ahead of schedule,” said Senator David Ige, chair of the Senate Committee on Ways and Means. “By completing work on the budget early, we have more time to consider the state financial plan and make thoughtful decisions on what bills should move forward.”
Finishing work on the budget early also creates a better environment for Senate and House negotiators working on other measures. Rational decisions can now be made without the immense pressure of looming deadlines. The conference committee meetings for the State Budget began nearly a week earlier than normal to avoid the last minute rush to get conference bills out for final vote. This is a marked change from the last minute rush of typical legislative sessions.
One of the items that the two sides were able to come to agreement upon was a balanced reduction of vacancies throughout state departments in order to cut costs and ensure accurate financial reporting. After considering input from the departments, the two Chairs announced that roughly 200 positions—down from the proposed 1,000—will be reduced to save nearly $8 million.
“Chair Ige and I believe that in order to efficiently and effectively use state resources, the departments need to instill a sense of accountability and responsibility in their management of vacant positions. We have made it very clear that the Legislature wants to have all departments accurately use money we give them for its intended purpose and not for other things,” said Representative Sylvia Luke, chair of the House Finance Committee. “I would like to really thank them for understanding what we are trying to accomplish and for providing information to ensure that the most effective decisions are made in staffing.”
On the opening day of the conference committee for the state budget, the chairs agreed to appropriate $100 million for fiscal year (FY) 2014 and $117.4 million for FY 2015 to begin payments on the unfunded liabilities.
Currently, the unfunded liabilities for the employer-union health benefits trust fund is $13.6 billion.
Over the upcoming fiscal biennium, the Legislature’s final draft of the executive budget is more than $250 million under the Governor’s budget proposal.
Today, appropriations for Capital Improvement Programs (CIP) and grants for non-profits (Grant-In-Aid) were announced. The committee funded $30 million in projects for non-profit organizations on every island in the state.
“In conferencing with the House members, the intent of this biennium’s CIP negotiations has been to identify what needs to be funded by the state, while staying within the executive bond issuance plan as much as possible. For General Obligation bonds, this was just over $1.32 billion for the biennium to cover projects related to agriculture, education, social services, and technology,” explained Senator Michelle Kidani, vice chair of the Senate Committee on Ways and Means who oversees Capital Improvements Projects for the Senate.
“This proposed budget keeps the CIP budget within the state’s debt ceiling and Executive Bond issuance plan,” said Representative Luke.”
On funding public school facilities, Luke said, “We have agreed to fund the Department of Education over $400 million for repairs, upgrades and issues that have plagued our educational facilities for many years. You can’t have a 21st century school with 20th century electrical wiring!”
House Bill 200, relating to the State Budget, will now go before the full House and Senate for a final vote.
Leaders Highlight Agreement on Several Significant Budget Items
Honolulu, Hawaii – The conference meeting to negotiate differences in the state budget between the House and Senate was held a week earlier than normal to allow more discussion time for conference members and avoid the last minute rush to act on other fiscal bills.
In his opening remarks today, Senate Ways and Means Chair, David Ige said, “This is an historic convening of the conference committee. I cannot ever remember beginning this early in the session on the budget. I would like to commend the House for its quick action and work in passing the budget over to the Senate early, and the Senate was inspired to do likewise.”
House Finance Chair, Sylvia Luke acknowledged the leadership of Senate President Donna Mercado Kim and House Speaker Joseph M. Souki “in making it possible for us to start the conference meetings early.” Luke added, “Today we are not only ready to officially open conference meetings, we are ready to make significant decisions.”
Of the thousands of budget items facing the conference committee, two-thirds of them have already been agreed between what was contained in the House and Senate drafts of the budget.
Today, the chairs agreed to appropriate $100 million for fiscal Year (FY) 2014 and $117.4 million for FY2015 to begin payments on the unfunded liabilities. Currently, the unfunded liabilities for the Employer-Union Health Benefits Trust Fund is $13.6 billion.
We believe that paying down the State’s unfunded liabilities must be a priority and can no longer be left to discretion,” said Senator Ige. “Additionally, this will put the State at the leading edge of national efforts to address this issue.”
Also today, the committee agreed on appropriating about $1.2 million each year to the Charter School Commission. This appropriation would add 15 positions.
We both agreed to fully fund the Charter School Commission to ensure that they do have the resources to conduct the audits, to establish the performance contracts, to really do the public’s business to ensure that the public charter schools are capable of providing quality educational services to our children,” said Representative Luke.
The two sides also resolved differences on four other items today.
An allocation of $1 million to sustain the Hawaii Health Information Exchange (HHIE) contract for FY14. The HHIE is a local non-profit organization designated by the State of Hawaii to build the statewide health information exchange, a secure electronic network that allows health care providers to transmit patient medical information more efficiently.
Protection against invasive species by providing $750,000 in each of the next two years for the Hawaii Invasive Species Council. These funds will support a wide variety of invasive species prevention, control, and outreach projects across the state.
$4.7 million over the next biennium for risk management ensuring the state is adequately protected against catastrophic losses.
$700,000 for FY14 for the State Library System to purchase additional books, e-books, and other circulatory materials statewide.
Additionally, Ige and Luke highlighted some of the other notable budget items upon which there was agreement in the House and Senate budget drafts.
$1.2 million in special funds over the next biennium to fund seven new positions, including environmental health specialists and engineers. These positions will monitor watershed and surface water quality, the state water reuse and green house gas program, air pollution control programs and the enforcement of clean water regulations.
Approval of $126,400 for two juvenile parole officer positions on the neighbor islands which will help keep youth with their families instead of requiring them to relocate to the Oahu Youth Facility.
$135,000 to fund three animal disease inspector positions that will assist in controlling livestock diseases.
An appropriation of $327,000 over the next two years for the Automated Fingerprint Identification System and Facial Recognition System maintenance. This will enable all county law enforcement agencies to keep their systems running 24-hours 7-days a week.
$100,000 in general funds and $225,000 in federal funds to upgrade 120 emergency sirens around the state.
Support for veteran services by providing $870,000 for the next two years for five new counselor positions, burial service support, special housing for disabled veterans, and program operations.
$456,000 each year in federal funds for domestic violence prevention and support services.
An increase in the special fund ceiling by over $700,000 for eight new food sanitation inspector positions to address an increasing number of food safety violations on Oahu.
Over $2.2 million for both years to restore 32 custodial positions for the maintenance and upkeep of Honolulu International Airport. As the first and last place that visitors will see during their trip, it is important to create a pleasant impression for all visitors to Hawaii.
Nearly $81 million in FY14 for the repair and maintenance of our state highways.
The conference committee is scheduled to meet tomorrow, Friday, April 12 in conference room 309 at 2:30 p.m.
House Finance and Senate Ways and Means Leaders Schedule to Meet on Thursday, April 11
Honolulu, Hawaii – House Finance Chair Sylvia Luke and Senate Ways and Means Chair David Ige have announced that the first conference committee meeting on the state budget will be held on Thursday, April 11, 9:30 a.m. in room 309 at the State Capitol.
The conference committee meetings for the state budget are being held a week earlier than normal to avoid last minute rushes to get conference bills out for final vote.
“Both the Senate and the House moved quickly to get the budget moved out of their respective legislative bodies to get us into a position to negotiate differences a week earlier and allow for more discussion time. This also allows the public the opportunity to better follow the work of the conference committee,” said Representative Luke.
“We look forward to working with the House to make strategic investments in our community and provide a solid financial foundation for the State,” said Senator Ige.
The House Conferees are: Representatives Sylvia Luke, Chair; Scott Nishimoto, Aaron Johanson, Ty Cullen, Mark Hashem, Kaniela Ing, Jo Jordan, Bert Kobayashi, Nicole Lowen, Dee Morikawa, Richard Onishi, Gregg Takayama, James Tokioka, Justin Woodson, Kyle Yamashita, Beth Fukumoto, Gene Ward.
The Senate Conferees are: Senators David Ige, Chair; Michelle Kidani, Suzanne Chun Oakland, Donovan Dela Cruz, J. Kalani English, Will Espero, Gilbert Kahele, Gilbert Keith-Agaran, Ronald Kouchi, Russell Ruderman, Laura Thielen, Jill Tokuda, Sam Slom.
During Session on April 4, 2013, the Senate voted to approve its version of the State Budget, House Bill 200. The Senate’s version of the bill took a cautious and conservative approach to the Governor’s executive budget, with a regard to government expansion and fiscal matters. The Senate’s version of the budget is approximately $134 M under from the executive request. The bill appropriates funds for the operating and capital improvement budget of the Executive Branch for the fiscal biennium years 2013-2015.
Honolulu – The Senate Committee on Ways and Means passed House Bill 200 with amendments today. The Senate’s version of the bill is approximately $141 M less in general funds than Governor Abercrombie’s budget proposal. The bill appropriates funds for the operating and capital improvement budget of the Executive Branch for the fiscal biennium years 2013-2015.
Although the revenue forecast continues to improve, we took a cautious and conservative approach in our version of the budget,” said Senator David Ige, chair of the Senate Committee on Ways and Means. “We reduced the executive branch’s request by approximately $141 million, while making strategic investments in our community.”
Here are some of the highlights of the bill:
$26.5M Executive Office of Early Learning, includes early childhood education program
$55M Department of Education’s weighted student formula
$54.5M Office of Information Management & Technology
$200M Hawaii Employer-Union Health Benefits Trust Fund, unfunded liabilities
$5.2 M Agricultural task force and livestock feed development program
$5.2 M Agricultural resource management programs and projects, including Kunia agricultural park irrigation systems
$25M Sequestration contingency fund to address nationwide federal spending reductions
$355,000 Hawaii Refinery Task Force
$8M Hawaii Growth Initiative
$1M Hawaii Health Information Exchange
$3.9M State energy projects
$874,000 Veteran services
$1.8M Homeless shelters and services
The capital improvement programs include $2 billion in all means of financing for the fiscal year 2014 and $990M for fiscal year 2015,” explained Senator Michelle Kidani, vice chair of the Senate Committee on Ways and Means who oversees Capital Improvements Projects for the Senate.
Highlights of the capital improvement program:
$1.2B For Department of Transportation projects, such as $70 million for the expansion of the Kona International Airport, $140 million for Honolulu International Airport, as well as increased capacity at our harbors ($250 million), and dozens of road improvements and bridge repairs.
$120M For informational systems in various departments to streamline tax collections, maintain and share critical health information, as well provide for a secure communication network for the islands.
The investments made in the Department of Transportation focus our attention on addressing the less than ideal conditions of our roads and infrastructure, expanding our harbors and renovating the first thing our visitors see—our airports. We also continue to move our State into the 21st century by allocating funds towards upgrading the State’s aging and obsolete IT infrastructure,” said Kidani.
The House Bill 200 HD1 SD1 moves on to the full Senate for a vote.
In the latest installment of Senate Spotlight, Senator David Ige (Senate District 16- Pearl City, Momilani, Pearlridge, ‘Aiea, Royal Summit, ‘Aiea Heights, Newtown, Waimalu, Halawa, Pearl Harbor) talks about his goals for the 2013 Legislative Session. Senator Ige, chair of the Senate Committee on Ways and Means, discusses the State Budget and touches on several key areas of interest, including making strategic investments, the economy, moving government forward, restoring government services that promote the health and safety of our community, energy and food self-reliance and education.
Honolulu – The Senate Committees on Ways and Means and Higher Education will be holding two joint informational briefings to discuss employee salaries and student tuition at the University of Hawaii (UH) system. UH’s Board of Regents (BOR) has been requested to present at both briefings.
There are growing demands for state resources. A better understanding of how the university uses its money will help determine how state funds are allocated,” said Senate Ways and Means Chair David Ige.
We’re hoping to gain insight on the University’s processes and possibly look for ways of doing things better,” said Higher Education Chair Brian Taniguchi.
The first informational briefing will be held on Friday, February 1 at 9 a.m. in the State Capitol’s room 211. The BOR has been asked to present information on salaries and compensation inclusive of the following:
1. Policies and processes used to determine salaries;
2. Salaries of highly compensated positions;
3. Types of compensation and benefits awarded other than salary; and
4. Employee contract buyouts
The second informational briefing will be held on Tuesday, February 5 at 9 a.m., also in room 211. The BOR has been asked to present information on tuition inclusive of the following:
1. Policies and processes used to set tuition;
2. Tuition schedules from 2006 to 2017;
3. Amounts of revenue the tuition increases from 2006 to 2017 have and will provide the university;
4. Policies and processes used to determine how to allocate and spend existing and incremental increases in tuition revenue; and
5. The use of tuition revenue increases received for the past 6 years and the projected use of expected increases under the current tuition escalation schedule
HONOLULU- University of Hawaii Warriors Head Coach Norman Chow, Rainbow Wahine Sand Volleyball Coach Scott Wong and Acting UH Athletics Director Dr. Rockne Freitas will join area legislators for a town hall meeting on Thursday, July 26, 2012 from 7:00 p.m. to 8:30 p.m. at the Pearl Ridge Elementary School Cafeteria. During the meeting, residents will receive an update on the University of Hawaii’s athletics program and its upcoming season.
The University of Hawaii’s athletics program has undergone an invigorating transformation over the past few years, making it an opportune time for us to hear about the exciting changes,” said Senator Donna Mercado Kim, who is hosting the community meeting and represents Moanalua, ‘Aiea, Fort Shafter, Kalihi Valley, and Halawa Valley. “This would be a great opportunity for residents to engage with three key figures of the UH athletics program.”
Other area legislators sponsoring the meeting include Senator David Ige and Representatives Heather Guigni, Roy Takumi, K. Mark Takai and Aaron Ling Johanson.
(Senate Education Chair Jill Tokuda, Vice Chair Michelle Kidani, Senator David Ige, and Representative Della Au Belatti join Governor Neil Abercrombie for the signing of Senate Bill 2545 into law.)
Honolulu – Today Governor Neil Abercrombie signed Senate Bill 2545, Relating to Education, into law. The measure establishes the Executive Office on Early Learning.
Currently, Hawaii is just one of eleven states without a publically funded preschool program. SB 2545 works in concert with the Governor’s Early Childhood Education Initiative to help the State join the rest of the country and meet its goal of providing a viable early learning system for Hawaii’s youngest keiki.
“What we know as parents and what the research tells us is clear: access to developmentally and age appropriate educational opportunities makes a difference,” said Senate Committee on Education Chair Jill Tokuda.
SB2545 establishes the Executive Office on Early Learning to provide for the necessary coordination and cooperation amongst all relevant governmental departments and agencies. In addition, the existing Early Learning Council will transition into its new role as the Early Learning Advisory Board, providing guidance and perspective from the public and private sector.
To assist in the implementation of a uniform early learning program SB 2545 will phase out Junior Kindergarten, repealing the program at the end of the 2013-2014 school year. In 2008 Hawaii established Keiki First Steps, a statewide early learning system, focused on maximizing public and private resources to ensure the delivery of services throughout our communities.
“SB2545 represents the very first steps of Keiki First Steps,” said Senator Jill Tokuda. “ The measure calls on the Office to develop an implementation plan and projected financials to ensure a seamless transition to an early learning system, focusing on those targeted four year olds most impacted by the loss of Junior Kindergarten”.
The measure also clarifies a law passed in 2010 by making clear that a child must be at least 5 years old by July 31st in order to enter kindergarten, but pushes back this mandate back to the 2014-15 year to align with the implementation of Keiki First Steps, and focused on ensuring all children have meaningful options.
The views expressed on this website are those of the individual member and/or the collective members of the Hawaii State Senate Majority Caucus and do not represent the views, official policies or positions of, and should not be attributed to, the Hawaii State Senate or the Hawaii State Legislature.