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House votes to approve state budget

By Anita Hofschneider

Associated Press

LAST UPDATED: 04:43 p.m. HST, Mar 13, 2013

The state House voted today to approve a nearly $23.3 billion state budget that secures funding for state departments and capital improvements but falls about $600 million short of what Gov. Neil Abercrombie is requesting.

Despite not meeting Abercrombie's request, the proposal for fiscal years 2013-2015 is a marked increase from the $21.9 billion biennial budget passed in 2011.

The budget bill moves to the Senate for consideration.

Members of the House Committee on Finance, which published the latest draft of the bill last week, say positive revenue projections led them to restore resources to departments that suffered cuts in recent years.

But lawmakers say they also decided to be cautious because of uncertainty surrounding federal budget cuts and ongoing union negotiations.

The budget advanced by the House includes $1.7 billion for capital improvement projects in fiscal year 2013-2014 and more than $900 million in fiscal 2014-2015.

That sets aside more than $100 million to improve public schools and more than $100 for the University of Hawaii system.

In addition to capital improvements, the proposal also dedicates $7.9 million to update the state's information technology systems and accounts for state department operating costs.

The proposal adds funding for personnel at state departments including the Department of Agriculture and the Department of Health. At the same time, it cuts more than 900 state positions that have been vacant for more than two years.

The bill doesn't appropriate any money for bills that the Legislature is still debating, such as the governor's preschool program or collective bargaining agreements.

In addition to the executive budget, the House also plans to vote today on budget proposals for the judiciary and the Office of Hawaiian Affairs.

The proposed budget for the judiciary is about $288 million, just shy of its request for $291 million.

Finance Committee members say they want to provide almost $4.5 million to restore the salaries of judges, who took a pay cut in 2009.

The committee voted to give OHA about $5.3 million, much less than the office's $7 million request.

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localhaole wrote:
The State needs to invest more in upgrading its business and IT infrastructure! $7.9 million is peanuts compared to what is necessary to bring us into the 21st century. Investments in IT have been proven in the private sector and in federal and municipal governments to generate net income in the long term, thanks to reduced costs for providing services and reduced maintenance costs for legacy systems. Help Hawaii help itself - invest in the infrastructure.
on March 13,2013 | 01:34PM
false wrote:
The state needs to look at privatizing many services. Not only will there be enormous savings but services will be more efficient. The legislature is of course afraid of the unions. Its about time they also start standing up for the people who they are suppose to represent and not to private interest. But I guess we all know the reality to that . Just ranting .
on March 13,2013 | 03:51PM
kauai wrote:
So where in the state budget is the money for repaving our dang highways and freeways? Filling potholes and narrowing lanes are b***s**t shortcuts instead of really fixing the roadway problems. Sorry for the rant, but I'm still PO'd about the condition of our roads. I'm constantly reminded of the poor state of our highways and freeways when commuting to and from work, day-in, day-out!
on March 13,2013 | 04:36PM
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