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State Senate committee plans bigger budget

By Anita Hofschneider

Associated Press

LAST UPDATED: 08:40 a.m. HST, Mar 23, 2013

Gov. Neil Abercrombie's preschool proposal will likely be getting a boost from the state Senate Ways and Means Committee.

Committee Chairman David Ige said Friday that the committee, which is in the process of mulling over its version of the state budget, plans to fund the proposed early childhood program. He said senators are still debating exactly how much to set aside.

Abercrombie has said the new preschool program is his top priority this session. But the state House budget draft didn't include any funding for the proposal.

House Finance Committee Chairwoman Sylvia Luke said previously that the committee chose not to fund any proposals that are still being debated. The House budget proposal fell about $590 million short of Abercrombie's request.

The House draft also removed funding for more than 900 vacant positions in state departments.

During a Senate hearing on the budget, state department leaders urged Senate leaders to reject the proposed vacancy cuts, saying that they are indiscriminate and harmful.

Ige told The Associated Press that the Senate committee won't include those cuts in its budget proposal.

He said rather than looking at the House budget draft and revising it, the Senate committee is looking at Abercrombie's budget proposal and focusing on which of the governor's proposals should be funded.

He said after the Senate votes on its budget proposal, lawmakers from both chambers will come together to work out the differences.

Ige says the committee is aiming to publish its budget draft by April 1. He said he expects it to be somewhere between the House's $23.25 billion proposal and Abercrombie's $23.8 billion request.

He said his committee is facing less pressure than the House did when crafting its proposal because of recent positive revenue projections that the Council on Revenues released after the House Finance Committee published its budget draft.

"To be fair, timing is everything," he said. "We have more than $300 million more so we won't have to be as aggressive."

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Pacej001 wrote:
1. "..senators are still debating exactly how much to set aside", ? Didn't the SA just publish an article showing a $520million/year funding shortfall for public employee pensions? Why is there any money to be "set aside"? 2. "...state department leaders urged Senate leaders to reject the proposed vacancy cuts, saying that they are indiscriminate and harmful." Oh, yeah. Someone has to stand up for the rights of vacant positions, otherwise, how will these non-people feed and clothe their non-existent kids? "To be fair, timing is everything," Ige said. "We have more than $300 million more so we won't have to be as aggressive." Noooo, nope. Wouldn't want aggression. Might wake up our Godzilla sized unfunded liabilities (over $21billion) (and especially, we wouldn't want to wake up the taxpayers who will eventually have to pay in the form of higher taxes). No, our legislature, in providing token funding for unfunded pension liability/health care cost, is pretty much like the doctor who, on the eve of his retirement, prescribes Tylenol for his cancer patients.
on March 23,2013 | 09:21AM
twosense wrote:
Pacej001: You are right on target!! For goodness sake, there is NO money to set aside i.e. a major debt being the pension fund for public employees running in the $$ billions!! Also, why are State dept. leaders crying over the rights of vacant positions as being indiscriminate and harmful. Didn't know that positions have rights too!!! Huh?!! ...and these are the Hawaii lawmakers?!! Scary thought!!
on March 23,2013 | 12:45PM
1local wrote:
charge and borrow - future generations can pay it off - democrat / union mentality...
on March 24,2013 | 08:42AM
DiverDave wrote:
Correct Pacej001!
on March 24,2013 | 01:07PM
Maneki_Neko wrote:
Anybody remember $22 billion in unfunded liabilities? This is just a slick trick by Ige and Abercrombie to bring back a spending proposal that was rejected because we do not have enough money. Abercrombie loves his tax paid baby sitting proposal.

Come on Senators, at least pretend to show some fiscal restraint. Somebody has to be the adult and say we cannot spend what we do not have.

on March 23,2013 | 11:19AM
allie wrote:
We badly need a state investment in a public-private system for 4 year olds. Shame on Hawaii for not having it. Most Red States in the South even have it.
on March 23,2013 | 12:06PM
2_centz wrote:
This comment has been deleted.
on March 23,2013 | 06:51PM
ya_think wrote:
2_centz it's a combination of parents not being parents and people like allie who think they need to be taken care of and not have to pay for it.
on March 24,2013 | 02:54AM
LittleEarl_01 wrote:
If these divisions/departments have done without these positions (unfunded) for a period of time, what is the need now. For many it's like a savings account which they can dip into when they want something.
on March 24,2013 | 04:26AM
atilter wrote:
good and valid posts - AND YET, THESE LEGISLATORS, both passed and present, HAVE A BUILT-IN MECHANISM TO RECEIVE periodic PAY RAISES AUTOMATICALLY!! ALL THEY HAVE TO DO IS SAY NOTHING ABOUT IT AND IT GETS FUNDED AND PASSED! all other budgetary items have to submitted departmentally, approved and submitted administratively, then DISCUSSED at great length LEGISLATIVELY - then it might get funded! legislative pay raises, ironically, are FUNDED by STATUTE in the opposite fashion - AUTOMATICALLY - - UNLESS, IN ORDER TO STOP IT, the legislative pay raise IS consciously and overtly BROUGHT UP, DISCUSSED in great detail, APPROVED BY a high percentage of the entirety of BOTH BODIES, THEN rubber-stamp SIGNED OFF BY THE ADMINISTRATION. posts to the contrary are most welcome as interestingly informative.
on March 24,2013 | 10:07AM
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