Senate WAM Committee passes Budget Bill, emergency appropriations following Maui wildfires

Listen to this Article
5 minutes
Loading Audio... Article will play after ad...
Playing in :00

WAM-JDC, WAM-JDC, WAM, WAM Public Hearings (2.22.24). PC: Hawaiʻi State Senate / YouTube

The Senate Committee on Ways and Means unanimously passed House Bill 1800 Senate Draft 1, the Executive Branch State Budget. The Senate Draft primarily includes appropriations for the State’s operating and capital improvement budgets in Fiscal Year 2024-2025, allocating $10,323,624,848 in general funds and $19,099,424,059 in all means of financing.

Additionally, due to the August 2023 Maui Wildfires, Ways and Means unanimously approved other emergency appropriation bills, House Bill 679 Senate Draft 2 and House Bill 2610 Senate Draft 2, to allocate funding to address ongoing and escalating costs to non-congregate sheltering, development of temporary and permanent housing, and other needs.

To increase public transparency of the legislative and budgetary process, proposed drafts of House Bill 679 Senate Draft 2 and House Bill 2610 Senate Draft 2 were posted on the capitol website in advance of Wednesdayʻs hearing, and include reporting requirements for when the funds are ultimately spent. The Committee on Ways and Means passed Senate Drafts of these bills to show as comprehensive a picture as possible of what the Green Administration has requested in relation to the August 2023 Wildfires.

To support the initial anticipated costs for the State to address the August 2023 Wildfires, the Green Administration moved $164 million into the Major Disaster Fund from other departments and $30 million from the Governor’s Discretionary Fund to provide a total of $200 million to cover expenses in Fiscal Year 2023-2024.

However, costs have quickly escalated, primarily for non-congregate sheltering. The State’s contract with the American Red Cross went from $200 million in August, to $300 million in September, to $400 million in November, and to $500 million in February 2024. This increasing cost, as well as the State’s decision to provide extended sheltering for FEMA ineligible households beyond the Safe Harbor period, has resulted in drastically increased costs to the State.


The Department of Budget and Finance typically limits Executive Departments spending by 5% as an accounting best practice. During an Informational Briefing held by the Committee on Feb. 29, the Department of Budget and Finance informed the Committee that it would be using the restricted 5% on Department budgets to cover the shortfall of funds that the Administration has initially projected for Maui recovery. On March 5, in Governor’s Message 4, Gov. Green requested an additional $297 million in Fiscal Year 2023-2024 to cover non-congregate sheltering for households that may be FEMA ineligible, as well as another $65 million for the State’s share of the One ʻOhana Trust Fund.

As the Committee voted Wednesday, the Administration had not yet set forward a plan to move households out of non-congregate sheltering or to fund non-congregate sheltering beyond June 2024. The Committee noted that should non-congregate sheltering continue beyond June, the State will have to continue to cover one hundred percent of the cost for FEMA ineligible households if families are not transitioned into temporary and permanent housing options. 

Wednesday was not the first time that Ways and Means or the Senate has taken action on bills relating to wildfire recovery. Earlier this session, the full Senate passed Senate Bill 582 Senate Draft 2 and Senate Bill 3068 Senate Draft 1 and moved each to the House as potential funding vehicles for wildfire recovery. Both bills have yet to be scheduled by the House Committee on Finance.

Developing a state budget that addresses the immediate and future needs associated with wildfire recovery efforts is a nuanced and complex undertaking. House Bill 1800 Senate Draft 1 is the culmination of work by the Ways and Means Committee and various stakeholders to align the State’s position to support the wildfire survivors and the future development of West Maui.

Additionally, the Committee recognized that numerous other priorities necessitate funding via the budget bill as well, and Senate Majority priorities relating to Emergency Preparedness, Recovery and Resilience; Workforce Development and Education; Economic Development and Infrastructure; Agriculture, Environment, and Natural Resource Management; and Housing and Homelessness were included in House Bill 1800 Senate Draft 1. Leaders say the Senate Draft lays out an executive budget “that creates a responsive, proactive, and cost-effective state government that stabilizes essential services and programs to address the needs of our most vulnerable residents, while ensuring a solid financial future should the State be faced with another unforeseen disaster.”


“The Senate continues to prioritize investments that safeguard our island home and diversify our economy and workforce to reverse the brain drain,” said Sen. Donovan M. Dela Cruz (Senate District 17, portion of Mililani, Mililani Mauka, portion of Waipiʻo Acres, Launani Valley, Wahiawā, Whitmore Village), Chair of the Senate Committee on Ways and Means. “The Senate budget prioritizes diversifying our economy and making strategic investments into our state’s infrastructure to facilitate the development of more affordable housing for our local residents.”

“The Capital Improvements Projects section of HB1800 SD1 also includes projects that align with the priorities the Senate,” said Sen. Sharon Y. Moriwaki (Senate District 12, Waikīkī, Ala Moana, Kaka‘ako, McCully), Vice Chair of the Senate Committee on Ways and Means. “The CIP Budget prioritizes the development and rehabilitation of critical infrastructure and facilities, focusing on repairs to promote the health and safety of Hawaiʻi’s residents. At the same time, the Senate Draft includes funds to address the needs of the Maui wildfire recovery efforts.”

Highlights for the operating budget from the Senate Draft include the following:

Department of Agriculture

  1. Increase the Animal Quarantine Special Fund ceiling by $733,076 for IT improvements to the Animal Integration System
  2. Add $1,000,000 for the Farm to Food Bank Program
  3. Add $1,000,000 for DaBux Program
  4. Increase the trust fund ceiling by $93,434 for a Grant Writer salary
  5. Add $52,500 as non-recurring for critical software upgrades

Department of Accounting and General Services

  1. Add $2,500,000 for Microsoft G5 licenses
  2. Add $1,650,000 to replace the State’s Financial System
  3. Add $400,000 for menstrual products and dispensers
  4. Add $1,000,000 as non-recurring for increase in electricity cost
  5. Add $470,000 for telecommunications radio site leases, maintenance, and operations
  6. Add $17,000,000 for State Risk Management Revolving Fund

Department of the Attorney General

  1. Add $2,456,750 for Career Criminal and Victim Witness Assistance Programs
  2. Add four positions and $693,375 for the Hawaiʻi Correctional System Oversight Commission
  3. Add four positions and $336,800 for the Civil Recoveries Division
  4. Add $266,648 for the Criminal Justice Division

Department of Business, Economic Development, and Tourism

  1. Add 30 positions and $63,000,000 for the Hawaiʻi Tourism Authority
  2. Increase Convention Center Special Fund ceiling by $45,000,000 as non-recurring for deferred maintenance
  3. Increase Aloha Stadium Special Fund ceiling by $49,500,000 as non-recurring for operations and development
  4. Add two positions and $230,230 for property and water system management on Kauaʻi
  5. Increase Creative Industries Special Fund ceiling by $475,000 for State-County Memorandum of Agreements

Department of Budget and Finance

  1. Increase the Unclaimed Property Trust Fund ceiling by $4,000,000 for disbursement of payments
  2. Add $13,356,628 for broadband federal matching
  3. Add $126,000 as non-recurring for the procurement of a case management software for the office of the public defender

Department of Commerce and Consumer Affairs

  1. Increase special fund ceiling by $1,175,000 for increase in operating costs
  2. Increase special fund ceiling by $2,500,000 as non-recurring for website redesign and call center
  3. Increase special fund ceiling by $550,000 as non-recurring for cloud migration and data center closure

Department of Defense

  1. Add $6,919,624 for Hazard Mitigation and $24,700,000 in matching Federal funds
  2. Add $1,430,900 as non-recurring for utilities cost at Joint Base Pearl Harbor-Hickam, Kauaʻi, and Kalaeloa
  3. Add $497,000 as non-recurring for utilities at Hawaiʻi Army National Guard facilities statewide
  4. Add $139,909 for State Warning Point and sirens
  5. Add $7,000 as non-recurring for utilities at Starbase

Department of Education

  1. Add $12,931,380 as non-recurring for the Weighted Student Formula to support English learners
  2. Add $413,915 as non-recurring for AP exam and course subsidies
  3. Add $3,600,000 to provide work-based learning for students with severe disabilities
  4. Add $20,990,000 as non-recurring for summer learning hubs
  5. Add $15,000,000 as non-recurring for electricity
  6. Add $5,000,000 for security
  7. Add $18,000,000 for food services
  8. Add $18,266,346 for bus contracts
  9. Add $10,000,000 for workers’ compensation
  10. Add $14,925,959 for collective bargaining for vice principals and educational assistants
  11. Add $2,500,000 for career and technical education teacher differentials
  12. Add $1,700,000 to enhance the Department’s mobile platforms that provide student mental health support

Office of the Governor

  1. Reduce two vacant positions and $176,816

Department of Hawaiian Home Lands

  1. Increase the federal fund ceiling by $808,204 for six Temporary Native American Housing Assistance and Self-Determination Act (NAHASDA) positions

Department of Human Services

  1. Add a total of $213,979,324 in non-general funded ceiling increases for federally mandated services
  2. Add $15,525,000 for Home and Community Based Service contract increases
  3. Add $1,320,000 for a 5% increase to Homeless Programs Office contracts
  4. Add $1,000,000 for youth mental health services
  5. Add $543,677 for maintenance and operation of the Benefits Eligibility Solution System
  6. Add $1,500,000 as non-recurring for the State Rent Supplement Program
  7. Add two positions and $252,360 to put the Deputy Director and Private Secretary into base budget

Department of Human Resources Development

  1. Add seven positions and $872,112 to expedite the hiring process and increase recruitment efforts
  2. Add one position and $35,508 for the employee benefits and telework programs
  3. Add $20,000 for employee training
  4. Transfer one position and $260,352 in FY24; and one position and $262,116 in FY25 for workers’ compensation services for the Hawaiʻi State Public Library System

Department of Health

  1. Add $29,000,000 for emergency aeromedical services
  2. Add $14,800,000 as non-recurring for bed contracts for the Hawaiʻi State Hospital
  3. Add $13,000,000 as non-recurring for Locum Tenens contracts at the Hawaiʻi State Hospital
  4. Add $10,800,000 for Child and Adolescent Mental Health contracts
  5. Add $8,880,000 for new and existing Group Home contracts
  6. Add $6,657,400 for the ʻIwilei Behavioral Health Crisis Center and supportive housing services
  7. Add $4,962,487 for early intervention services
  8. Add $2,878,240 for Emergency Medical Services collective bargaining contracts
  9. Add $2,500,000 as non-recurring for Kīnaʻu Hale asbestos remediation and professional services
  10. Add 10.0 Forensic Psychologists and $971,119 for court evaluations for Hawaiʻi State Hospital admissions and referrals
  11. Add one Plumber, one General Laborer, and $61,278 for Kalaupapa Settlement

Department of Law Enforcement

  1. Add 50.0 positions and $6,567,591 to increase law enforcement at airports and harbors
  2. Add $2,600,000 to continue security guard services and security camera monitoring
  3. Add $1,500,000 for the Law Enforcement Training Center
  4. Add $1,265,600 to continue the Illegal Firework Task Force
  5. Add $825,000 as non-recurring for the Gun Buyback Program

Department of Labor and Industrial Relations

  1. Add $10,000,000 for Grants-in-Aid pursuant to Chapter 42F
  2. Increase revolving fund ceiling by $51,914 to provide pay equity for 3.0 Boiler Inspectors
  3. Increase federal fund ceiling by $2,200,000 for Unemployment Insurance
  4. Increase special fund ceiling by $300,000 for Labor Law Enforcement Special Fund
  5. Increase federal fund ceiling by $200,000 for Veteran career counseling

Department of Land and Natural Resources

  1. Add $5,500,000 as non-recurring to improve forest and resource management for wildlife and invasive species
  2. Increase State Parks Special Fund ceiling by $2,000,000 as non-recurring for equipment and motor vehicles
  3. Increase State Parks Special Fund ceiling by $10,000,000 for repair and maintenance activities at state parks statewide
  4. Add 7 positions and $484,448 for DLNR HR recruitment and retention

Department of Corrections and Rehabilitation

  1. Add $50,000 to establish a Foster Pet Program
  2. Add $434,864 as non-recurring for utilities across various facilities

Department of Taxation

  1. Add 1.0 Senior Software Developer and $63,096
  2.  Add $98,000 for security equipment and vehicle contracts
  3.  Add $11,800 for the Multi-Factor Authentication System

Department of Transportation

  1. Add $5,000,000 as non-recurring for the Stored Property and Debris Removal Program
  2. Increase Special Fund Ceiling by $10,000,000 as non-recurring to renovate airport terminals
  3. Increase Special Fund Ceiling by $3,000,000 for roadside safety maintenance
  4. Increase Special Fund Ceiling by $1,250,000 as non-recurring for Google safety analytics

University of Hawaii

  1. Add $17,526,848 as non-recurring to restore funds from COVID
  2. Add 5.0 positions and $506,555 for CTAHR Extension Agents
  3. Add 6.5 positions and $1,068,821 for a nursing collaboration between UH Mānoa and UH West Oʻahu
  4. Add 4.0 positions and $925,000 for enhancement of the neighbor island health access and pathway program
  5. Add 4.0 positions and $1,208,020 for increased campus safety
  6. Add $3,700,000 as non-recurring for the Promise Program at UH Community Colleges

Sponsored Content

Subscribe to our Newsletter

Stay in-the-know with daily or weekly
headlines delivered straight to your inbox.


This comments section is a public community forum for the purpose of free expression. Although Maui Now encourages respectful communication only, some content may be considered offensive. Please view at your own discretion. View Comments