Abercrombie submits budget today: plan to speed economic recovery

February 22, 2011, 12:20 AM HST · Updated February 22, 5:20 AM
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Posted by Wendy Osher

Governor Neil Abercrombie today will submit his administration’s budget to the State Legislature with the goals of speeding up Hawai`i’s economic recovery, moving the state toward the priorities outlined in his New Day plan, and restoring basic government functions.

Gov. Neil Abercrombie. File photo by Wendy Osher.

Despite an $844 million deficit, Gov. Abercrombie said Hawai`i can achieve the goals and regain its financial health by reorganizing government services, leveraging state dollars for federal and private dollars, reducing programs with no funding service, facing up to difficult long-term fiscal challenges, and focusing on near-term economic recovery.

“The times are challenging, but that is no excuse for standing still,” said Gov. Abercrombie. “Our administration is moving in the new direction that the people of Hawai`i have and are calling for. This budget makes the best use of our limited resources.”

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Gov. Abercrombie forwarded the initial version of the state’s budget on Dec. 20, 2010. The following is the updated budget that reflects changes made by the Abercrombie Administration:

Total Operating Budget: The total operating budget of the state will be $22.7 billion over the next two fiscal years.

  • FY 2012 $11.4 billion
  • FY 2013 $11.3 billion

Operating Budget, Expenditure of Only General Funds:

  • FY 2012 $5.7 billion
  • FY 2013 $5.9 billion

New Day Work Projects: The Abercrombie Administration budget will invest $2.7 billion into capital improvement projects over the new two fiscal years.

  • FY 2012 $1.7 billion
  • FY 2013 $989 million

Governor Abercrombie outlined the three essential goals when developing the state’s budget:

  1. Restoring a Functioning Government. Every department is focusing on areas most critical to providing basic services and most necessary for advancing economic recovery.
  2. Speeding Up Economic Recovery. As a part of the New Day Work Projects, all departments looked for capital improvement projects that were ready to go and could be completed in two years.
  3. Reorienting to New Day Priorities. All agencies are restructuring themselves to focus on investing in human capital and building a sustainable economy.

“When our administration took office, we immediately began a daunting task of salvaging what we could from an administration with a fundamentally different view of the proper roles and responsibilities of government,” said Gov. Abercrombie. “In all instances, we are not yet able to fully restore government function, but this budget restarts each agency focusing on providing basic services as we continue to repair the public’s trust in government.”

Examples of Governor Abercrombie’s budget proposals include:

  • Rebuilding the agricultural inspection system to prevent the introduction of invasive species that damage our environment and agricultural industry; and providing basic capacity to the Division of Conservation and Resources Enforcement.
  • Restoring critical data system operations and finally establishing an office of the Chief Information Officer; a move that Abercrombie said, will save taxpayers millions of dollars and improve the capacity of public workers and the private sector to accelerate services and business activity.
  • Rebuilding Hawai`i’s occupational safety and health program, the historic preservation division, the Hawai`i film office, and other critical government functions that have a direct impact on business activity.

Governor Abercrombie’s financial plan includes a combination of repealing tax exemptions, making the current tax code fairer, addressing unfunded retirement and health liabilities and pulling back on social services for which there has been no funding source.

“As this plan has been put forward, some are reverting to the familiar approach of recent years: confrontation, denunciation, accusations,” Gov. Abercrombie said. “We must not be afraid to do that which is politically difficult nor look to blame government for our problems instead of taking ownership to create solutions. This is the unacceptable status quo. Our administration will not shy away from difficult choices or use gimmicks to mask our problems.”

(Supporting information courtesy Office of the Governor)

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