House budget bill crosses over, priorities include housing and renewable energy
The Hawaiʻi House passed the state budget on third reading, Wednesday.
House Speaker Scott K. Saiki (D-25, Ala Moana, Kaka‘ako, Downtown) said momentum was made on priority legislation that supports Hawaiʻi’s families and paves a path forward to a sustainable future.
With the House of Representatives approving budget bill HB300 for third reading, 453 House bills have officially crossed over to the Senate.
“This budget proposes to spend $1.3 billion on deferred maintenance which not only includes a backlog in facilities repair, but our most valuable resource, our natural environment – our parks, forests, and ocean resources. The intention is not to immediately spend the money, but to strategically tackle these projects to ensure that the state receives the best value while keeping the projects’ timetables in mind,” said Finance Chair Kyle T. Yamashita (D-12, Upcountry Maui).
House leadership also provided an update on five key measures within the Majority Bill Package.
“I am thankful for the collaborative efforts of my colleagues in passing key legislation. We are committed to building more affordable housing, providing financial relief to working families, providing mental health resources, and protecting our natural environment to mitigate and adapt to climate change,” said House Majority Leader Nadine K. Nakamura (D-15, Hā‘ena, Wainiha, Hanalei, Princeville, Kīlauea, Anahola, Keālia, Kāpa‘a, portion of Wailuā, Kawaihau).
The following five measures were highlighted at a news conference:
HB954 HD2 – Relating to taxation
Increases the amounts for the income tax brackets and personal exemption and standard deduction amounts for tax year 2023. Changes the amount of the state earned income tax credit to an unspecified percentage of the federal earned income tax credit allowed based on an individual’s federal income tax return.
“HB 954 focuses on our struggling families who work hard every day to make ends meet. Lowering the cost of living for local families has always been a priority of mine and this measure does exactly that. By reducing the tax burden to low- to moderate-income taxpayers, this measure provides financial relief to Hawaiʻi’s working families,” said Representative Daniel Holt (D-28, Sand Island, Iwilei, Chinatown).
HB953 HD1 – Relating to the Department of Land and Natural Resources
Requires DLNR to develop and publish a website that includes the application processes for a permit, license, or reservation needed to conduct recreational and commercial activities in the State that are regulated by or under the jurisdiction of the department. Requires DLNR to convert existing application processes into a digital format to be used on the website.
“Hawaiʻi residents have long been frustrated by overcrowded parks, commercial operators utilizing state resources without proper permitting, and a lack of funding for our precious natural resources. With the creation of this centralized reservation and fee system we can ensure that the needs of local people are the first priority, while also generating sufficient revenue to protect and improve these public lands. It is the first of many steps towards a more responsible and sustainable Hawaiʻi,” said Representative Sean Quinlan (D-47, Waialua, Hale‘iwa, Kawailoa Beach, Waimea, Sunset Beach, Waiale‘e, Kawela Bay, Kahuku, Lā‘ie, Hau‘ula, Punalu‘u, Kahana).
HB951 HD1 – Relating to housing
Deposits funds into the rental housing revolving fund to be used to provide grants or loans to mixed-income rental projects or units qualifying individuals and families.
“Affordable housing remains a very important issue for the House and the budget reflects an initial $75 million infusion into the Dwelling Unit Revolving Fund and administered by the Hawaiʻi Housing and Finance Development Corporation, which can be used for infrastructure investments and a wide range of housing related projects. The budget also includes an initial infusion of $75 million into the Rental Housing Revolving Fund which will also be further discussed through HB 951, a majority package bill, which crossed over to the Senate,” said Representative Troy N. Hashimoto (D-10, Waiʻehu, Wailuku, Waikapū, Sand Hills).
HB949 HD2 – Relating to renewable energy
Establishes and appropriates funds for a solar energy storage system loan program to provide asset limited, income constrained, employed (ALICE) households with low-interest loans to purchase and install solar energy storage systems, and a renewable energy system installation loan program to provide ALICE households with low-interest loans to purchase and install residential photovoltaic and energy storage systems, including battery storage systems.
“HB 949 will bring equity to Hawaiʻi’s renewable energy transition, making rooftop solar and storage systems attainable for more households. Hawaiʻi’s ALICE families stand to benefit the most from the long-term savings and lower bills associated with renewable energy systems, and this bill will open up new pathways to make this financially possible for all of Hawaiʻi’s working families. The house draft of the budget includes $300 million to capitalize this program, which will make it self-sustaining for many years to come,” said Representative Nicole E. Lowen (D-7, Kailua-Kona, Honokōhau, Kalaoa, Pu‘uanahulu, Puako, portion of Waikoloa).
HB948 HD2 – Relating to child and adolescent mental health
Establishes a two-year child and adolescent crisis mobile outreach team pilot program on Oʻahu and one neighbor island site to expand existing crisis response services.
“The child and adolescent crisis mobile outreach teams on Oʻahu and a neighbor island will promote safety for children where they are – in their homes, schools and community settings – by responding immediately when a crisis arises, and also continuing to provide stabilization for 8 weeks. The ongoing care will help children and caregivers to develop new coping skills and to connect with higher level services if needed. This program will allow more children to stay in their homes, rather than be transferred to age-appropriate acute psychiatric hospital beds or other out-of-home placements which are in short supply and are very costly,” said Representative Lisa Marten (D-51, Waimānalo, Keolu Hills, Lanikai, portion of Kailua).