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Senators pass bill raiding fewer funds

By Chris Mikesell

POSTED:
LAST UPDATED: 10:03 a.m. HST, Mar 02, 2011



The Senate Ways and Means Committee voted unanimously yesterday to approve a scaled-back version of a bill that would have raided 138 of the state's special funds to help address a budget shortfall.

The latest version of the bill would repeal 16 special funds and take some money from another 23 funds.

Senate Bill 120 does not specify how much money would potentially be diverted from those 39 special funds.

"We have identified a number of funds that we believe would be appropriate for repeal," said Ways and Means Chairman David Ige (D, Aiea-Pearl City). "We've also identified a number of funds that we believe may have excess balances that we may want to sweep at the end of session."

The bill now goes for a vote by the full Senate.

Among the funds still targeted for repeal are the Rx Plus special fund, which subsidizes prescription medications; two irrigation special funds designed to promote diversified agriculture and repair infrastructure; and two University of Hawaii scholarship endowment trust funds.

The bill now spares many funds whose potential repeal drew community criticism in more than three hours of oral testimony when the measure was first introduced, including the wireless enhanced 911 special fund, the tobacco settlement special fund and UH special funds.

Supporters of the latest draft of the bill say it is a step toward fiscal responsibility for the state.

"They should have started doing this a long time ago," said Lowell Kalapa, president of the Tax Foundation of Hawaii.

Kalapa said the bill now addresses the concerns of people who questioned raiding administrative fees like the UH student activity fee.

"If people are legitimately being asked to contribute a fee for which we are promising a specific activity or service, the courts protect that money," he said.

Kalapa estimated that state special funds could be holding between $500 million and $700 million — money he said could be put to better use for other services.

SPECIAL FUNDS AT RISK

TO BE REPEALED

» Travel agency recovery special fund
» Travel agency education special fund
» Patients' compensation special fund
» Western governor's university special fund
» University of Hawaii housing assistance revolving fund (remaining balance to go to the faculty housing auxiliary services special fund)
» International exchange health care tourism revolving fund
» Community college and UH-Hilo bookstore revolving fund
» Sen. Hiram L. Fong scholarship endowment trust
» Sen. Oren E. Long scholarship endowment trust
» Irrigation water development special fund
» Irrigation repair and maintenance special fund
» Rx Plus special fund
» State pharmacy assistance special fund
» Loss mitigation grant fund
» Fee simple residential revolving fund
» Education Laboratory School summer programs revolving fund

CHANGES PROPOSED

» Child care programs revolving fund becomes a special fund
»CUH Research and Revolving fund to be deposited into a discoveries and inventions special fund instead of a revolving fund (does not allow residual money to go into a housing assistance revolving fund)
»UH Alumni revolving fund becomes a special fund
»UH Manoa athletics revolving fund becomes a special fund.
»Waialee animal research farm revolving fund becomes a special fund
»UH-Hilo theatre revolving fund becomes a special fund.

WILL LOSE SOME MONEY

»State risk management revolving fund
»Medicaid investigations recovery fund
»Convention Center enterprise special fund
»Tourism special fund
»Energy security special fund
»Geospatial information and data integration special fund
»Hawaii community development revolving fund
»Aloha Tower fund
»Compliance resolution fund
»Mental health and substance abuse special fund
»Drug demand reduction assessments special fund
»Neurotrauma special fund
»Emergency Medical Services special fund
»Electronic device recycling fund
»Environmental management special fund
»Deposit beverage container special fund
»Employment and training fund
»Special employment insurance administration fund
»Special fund for disability benefits
»>Special premium supplementation fund
»Rental motor vehicle customer facility charge
»Rental assistance revolving fund
»Rental housing assistance fund





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Special funds, justify yourselves




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