Senate Ways and Means Chair David Ige
Senate Ways and Means Chair David Ige

Senate Ways and Means Chair David Ige offered these remarks on HB2012 HD1 SD1, which is the supplemental budget bill for general operations.

BY SEN. DAVID IGE – Mister President, I rise to speak in favor of this measure, the executive supplemental appropriations act of 2012, which adjusts appropriations for the current fiscal biennium.

Many have helped guide the development of this measure.  I appreciate the positive efforts set forth by members of this Legislature, the executive branch of government, and numerous members of the public.  I am also appreciative of my Vice Chair and the members of the Ways and Means Committee for sharing their insights and their support of the Committee’s work.

Members, please allow me a moment to acknowledge the staff that helps inform and implement the decisions we make.

Our Ways and Means Committee staff includes Anthony Valdez, Susan Hirai, Rod Becker, Michelle Scala, Sabrina Nasir, Will Kane, Alan Sarhan, Natalie Nakamine, Jami Fogelhut, Stephen Enos, Kelcie Nagata, Brandt Kam, Daniel Truong, and Keith Shimada.

Additionally, my own office staff play important roles in supporting the work of the Committee. They are Joyce Kami, Ryan Tsuji, Kanoe Kaaihue, Megan Kami, and Gail Ogawa.

Mister President, I would also like to express my gratitude to you and your staff for your guidance and support.

Colleagues, in each of the past three years we collectively confronted and addressed budget deficits brought about by the great recession in the billions of dollars.

These efforts were first successfully spearheaded in this body by the Senator from Moanalua. I then had the fortune of continuing the endeavor. Though we take with us many valuable lessons, with any luck, we have left this period in our State’s history behind.

This is not to say that the year has not posed significant challenges.  The budget submitted by the Governor prior to the Legislative Session was premised on 14.5 percent general fund revenue growth for the current fiscal year.

However, adjustments to the projections, now presumed to be 12 percent for the current year, leave us with only modest general fund balances.

Nonetheless, this year we are afforded the opportunity to reinforce the safety net and strengthen core government services that have been diminished over the years.  The governor’s initial supplemental budget request included

• $46 million for a number of programs to restore the safety net;

• $46 million for the department of education and university of Hawaii;

• $8 million to maintain essential services across the state; and

• $19 million for a various new day initiatives.

Members, the draft of the budget before you is both responsible and responsive to the Governor’s requests.  Funding is provided for the large majority of the administration’s initiatives, as they pertain to maintaining the safety net and restoring the ability for government to perform necessary functions.  Additionally, strategic investments are made in key areas that can help us grow the economy and sustain a more prosperous future for Hawaii.

The governor’s requested budget includes funding to significantly improve the infrastructure for information technology (IT) throughout state government, an area in which the Senate has led by example.  This budget includes more than $27 million dollars for critical IT infrastructure projects that will support increased efficiency in the transformation of state government.  Additionally, support is provided for the Governor’s high-speed broadband initiative to improve access to higher quality services.

The budget before you also strives to strength the safety net, and includes additional funds for child welfare, domestic violence shelters, Medicaid, and various shortfalls across the Department of Human Services.  Additionally, $18.2 million provided for the temporary assistance for needy families program and another $3.6 million for information technology initiatives to modernize the Department of Human Services.

Notably, the Senate has underscored education as a top priority by adding $44 million to the Department of Education’s budget.  Specifically, this measure focuses on key areas of investment in education, including: the weighted student formula, student meals, the community school for adult program, early learning, and student transportation.

Following significant evaluations of the Charter School system, the Legislature has a measure this year to rewrite the charter school law.  This is also reflected in the Senate’s draft of the budget. To ensure equal appropriations for the public schools as the charter schools, about $1 million dollars is provided to develop and implement a transition plan and provide equal per pupil operating funding for charter school and regular education students.

After years of neglect in our public libraries the, $500,000 is provided in this measure for e-books, books, and other circulatory materials for our state libraries. This would be the first appropriation for new circulatory materials in at least four years.

Through making strategic investments in our state government, the Senate’s version of the 2012 Supplemental Budget seeks to move the State forward, protect safety net services, strengthen funding for education, and make strategic investments that will advance our economy.

Adjustments made to this measure have resulted in the addition of $6 million to the executive supplemental budget request, as adjusted for governor’s messages, for fiscal year 2013.

Colleagues, I commend each of your efforts that have helped bring us to this point and thank you for your support of this measure and the important issues it represents.

 

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