Conference Committees to Begin Negotiations on State Budget
By Maui Now Staff
House and Senate conferees meet tomorrow to begin negotiations on a final version of the state budget bill.
The House Finance and Senate Ways and Means Committees are meeting to iron out the differences between their respective versions of the budget.
House Finance Committee Chair Representative Sylvia Luke discussed progress being made in a legislative press release today saying restraint should be used especially for programs that require a long-term funding commitment from the state.
She also expressed a need to reinforce the state’s emergency reserves, and ensure that sufficient funds are available for the state’s unfunded liabilities.
“The most recent projections by the Council on Revenues that forecasted a flatter rate of growth suggested we take a more prudent and conservative approach to structuring the state’s budget,” Luke said in a statement. “It does not mean we do not spend at all, but that we do it prudently by focusing on our priorities and spending wisely,” she said.
The committee highlighted a list of items for which there is already agreement in Senate and House versions of the budget. The list includes the following:
- $1.5 million for the Housing First Program to address homelessness in the state;
- $7.359 million for Wiki Wiki shuttle buses at Honolulu International Airport to support the state’s visitor industry at the points of entry and exit;
- $1 million in funding for campus enrollment support positions at University of Hawaiʻi-West Oʻahu; and
- $318,486 for the Executive Office on Aging grant programs.
Earlier this legislative session, House lawmakers from Maui said they had secured more than $460 million in capital improvement project funds before the first crossover deadline, including $130 million for the construction of the long-awaited Kīhei High School in South Maui.
The conferees will continue to meet through next week Friday, April 25, 2014.
A final conference draft will then be voted upon by the Legislature and if approved, will be sent to the governor for his signature.