HONOLULU – The Hawaii State Senate today passed House Bill (HB) 3, to provide emergency funding to the Kauai Regional Health Care System of the Hawaii Health Systems Corporation (HHSC).
HB 3 appropriates $7.3 million for fiscal year 2013-2014 to sustain the HHSC Kauai Regional Health Care System. The emergency funding will ensure that Kauai’s two critical access hospitals, West Kauai Medical Center and Samuel Mahelona Memorial Hospital, Kauai’s only inpatient psychiatric unit, long-term care operations and three physician clinics, will remain operational through the spring of 2014.
This measure is necessary to safeguard Kauai’s residents and visitors access to essential health care services,” said Senate Vice President Ronald D. Kouchi, who represents the islands of Kauai and Niihau. “I strongly appreciate the Ways and Means Committee chair, Senator David Ige, and the Health Committee chair, Senator Josh Green, M.D., for recognizing the critical need for this emergency appropriation and the three Kauai House of Representatives, James Kunane Tokioka, Dee Morikawa, and Derek Kawakami for their diligent work in aiding the passage of this measure.”
The measure will now be sent to Governor Neil Abercrombie for approval.
Early this week, Senate Education Chair Jill Tokuda met with principals from the Leilehua-Mililani-Waialua Complex and Aiea-Moanalua-Radford Complex to discuss the impacts of the Weighted Student Formula (WSF). This week’s meeting was part of a set of statewide site visits the Senator is conducting this interim, as she meets with principals across the State to receive feedback and comments about the way public schools are funded through WSF. Area Senators Michelle Kidani, Glenn Wakai, David Ige, and Donovan Dela Cruz were also in attendance.
In 2004, the Legislature passed Act 51, which created the WSF with the goal of empowering Principals to act as the educational leaders of their schools. As the 10th anniversary of Act 51 approaches, the Senate Education Committee has been focusing on making sure that the significant reforms set forth in Act 51 have not only been put into place, but that the desired outcomes have been achieved.
Senators visit the Pohoiki Swim Area and Boat Ramp. (L-R: Sen. Laura Thielen, Sen. Michelle Kidani, Sen. J. Kalani English, Sen. Donna Mercado-Kim, Sen. David Ige, Sen. Suzanne Chun Oakland, and Sen. Russell Ruderman.)
Earlier this week, the Senate Committee on Ways and Means, Hawai‘i Island Senators, and the Senate President conducted site visits across Hawai‘i Island. Led by Ways and Means Chair David Ige, Ways and Means Committee members, Hawaii Island Senators Malama Solomon, Josh Green, Gil Kahele, and Russell Ruderman, and Senate President Donna Mercado Kim toured and were updated on various programs, projects, and concerns.
While on Hawai‘i Island, Senators visited the Kona Airport, Judiciary Courthouse, Kona Community Hospital, UH Hawai‘i Community College Palamanui Site, Waimea Middle School, Puna Community Medical Center, Pahoa Public Library, Pohoiki Swim Area and Boat Ramp, Daniel K. Inouye College of Pharmacy Research Labs, UH Hilo Student Housing, Old Hilo Memorial Hospital, and Daniel K. Inouye College of Pharmacy Modules. They also held a community informational meeting at the Waimea Middle School cafeteria.
The Hawai‘i Island visit is part of a number of statewide site visits the Senate Ways and Means Committee will conduct this interim.
Senators tour the Kona Community Hospital.
Senators hold a community informational meeting at Waimea Middle School.
(Photos Courtesy: The Senate Ways and Means Committee.)
Honolulu- A dialogue focused on clean energy, technology and local households is at the center of a town hall meeting being held by ‘Aiea and Pearl City area lawmakers on Thursday, August 15, 2013, at the Pearl Ridge Elementary School’s cafeteria at 7:00 p.m.
The impact of rising rates of traditional energy sources is being felt in the pockets of many of our local households, who are having to dig deeper and deeper to pay the monthly electric bill or fill up the gas tank, “said Senate President Donna Mercado Kim, who represents District 14 (Kapalama, ‘Alewa, Kalihi Valley, Ft. Shafter, Moanalua Gardens & Valley, portions of Halawa and ‘Aiea). “This meeting is the perfect opportunity for residents to learn about the different forms of clean energy available, so they can make informed decisions that will hopefully save them money in energy costs.”
Apart from the typical solar and photovoltaic (PV) approach, residents will be updated on other alternative energy technologies available for their homes as well as tax credits and financing options to help fund such systems. Several electric vehicles will also be on site for residents to view and test drive the latest in vehicle technology.
In addition, information tables will be available, allowing for one-on-one questions with numerous industry professionals to help guide the residents in choosing the best energy saving technologies that are cost effective and tailored to their needs.
Guest speakers include representatives from the Hawaii Solar Energy Association, Hawaii Energy, and Hawaiian Electric Company. The Department of Taxation will also be present.
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.
Honolulu- Governor Neil Abercrombie today signed into law today measures critical to paying down the State’s unfunded liabilities and replenishing the hurricane and rainy day funds.
The Hawaii State Legislature worked collaboratively during the 2013 Session to fulfill its commitment to paying down the State’s unfunded liabilities pertaining to other post employment benefits. The Legislature made appropriations to begin payment to these unfunded health benefit liabilities through the State Budget with $100M for FY14 and $117.4M for FY15.
Currently, the unfunded liabilities for the employer-union health benefits trust fund is $13.6 billion.
House Bill 546, Relating to the Hawaii Employer-Union Health Benefits Trust Fund (EUTF), will make Hawaii the first state in the nation to statutorily require payment of the annual required contribution for future public worker health benefits.
Paying down these liabilities will have a positive impact on the state’s bond rating and ensure that Hawaii’s future is not handicapped by increasingly burdensome debt,” said Senator David Ige, chair of the Senate Committee on Ways and Means. “We have also set up a solid framework for future payments which demonstrates the legislature’s commitment to address the unfunded liability of the EUTF. “
The Governor also enacted two measures making general fund appropriations to recapitalize the State’s hurricane reserve trust and emergency and budget reserve funds, funds which were used to help balance the budget during the Great Recession.
During the Great Recession, as one of the alternatives to a general excise tax increase, we borrowed money from the hurricane fund and rainy day fund to balance the budget. We had always intended to repay those funds so that the proceeds would be available again for future contingencies,” explained Ige. “These bills demonstrate our commitment to recapitalizing those funds to build healthy reserves.”
Senate Bill (SB) 1094 makes a general fund appropriation of $50,000,000 for fiscal year 2013-2014 to recapitalize the hurricane reserve trust fund.
SB 1092 makes a general fund appropriation of $50,000,000 for fiscal year 2013-2014 to recapitalize the emergency and budget reserve fund.
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.
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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.