The Senate Committee on Ways and Means amended and passed HB200 on April 1, the state’s operating budget for fiscal years 2021-2022 (FY22) and 2022-2023 (FY23).
Despite an original projected deficit of nearly $2 billion, the Ways and Means committee unanimously approved the bill, which includes the infusion of $1.6 billion in federal aid to the State budget from the American Rescue Plan Act (ARPA) and $15,993,211,847 in general funds for the fiscal biennium beginning July 1, 2021 and ending June 30, 2023.
“The economic effects of the pandemic focused many conversations on our current spending practices and the prudent use of resources as we continue to face growing expenditures and an abrupt decline in revenue,” said Senator Donovan Dela Cruz (District 22 - Mililani Mauka, Waipi‘o Acres, Wheeler, Wahiawa, Whitmore Village and portion of Poamoho), chair of the Senate Committee on Ways and Means. “The Senate’s approach to balancing the budget consisted of six well-defined actions that strike a balance between meeting current and emergent needs of the State, while also ensuring that we do not create any additional financial burdens for future generations.”
The Senate Draft of the State Budget includes funding for the following priorities:
• Agriculture: support for various programs and services which includes the creation of the Pesticide Disposal Program and ceiling increases for Water Infrastructure Loans and Agriculture Resource Management.
• Economy: funding to support State Museums, ʻIolani Palace and Bishop Museum; and the allocation of ARPA funds to the Hawai'i Tourism Authority (HTA) to help sustain our visitor industry.
• Education: supporting Hawai'i's learners and education systems by adding funding for alternative learning, teacher rental subsidies, statewide trauma informed care services and K-12 programming at libraries. Funds were also restored for special education, libraries, instructional support, school support, school community services, charter schools and the DOE student weighted formula
For higher education, funding was added for UH Mānoa, the UH Cancer Center, Early College, JABSOM, UH Mānoa and UH Hilo Athletics and the Hawaiʻi Promise Program. Funds were also restored for UH Hilo, UH West Oʻahu, UH Systemwide Support and the UH Community Colleges.
• Protecting our natural resources: funding was restored for the Water and Land Development Division and the Native Resources and Fire Protection Program. Funds were also added for the Conservation and Resource Enforcement Division and to help combat rapid ʻōhiʻa death.
• Human Services: Funds were added to support health and human service programs such as the General Assistance Program, homeless services, Preschool Open Doors, Medicaid payments, the State Rent Supplement Program, and In-Community Youth Programs; and
• Funding for critical programs: funds were appropriated to support the Crime Victim Compensation Program, Career Criminal and Victim Witness Program and the Sex Abuse Treatment Center.
House Bill 200 House Draft 1, Senate Draft 1 now moves to the full Senate for a vote on second and third reading.