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Lawmakers approve bill that would raid fewer special funds

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The Senate Ways and Means committee this morning approved a scaled down proposal to raid the state’s special funds, repealing 16 and taking unspecified amounts from 25 others.

Under the bill, which now goes to the full Senate for a vote, the money would go the state’s general fund. Lawmakers originally sought in SB 120 to raid all 138 special funds, arguing there should be legislative oversight of what should be considered taxpayer money.

Ways and Means chairman Sen. David Ige (D, Aiea-Pearl City) this morning recommended the passage of the amended version of the bill.

The state’s special funds set aside money for a broad range of programs for everything from University of Hawaii student activities, libraries, beach restoration, to wireless enhanced 911.

The proposal had drawn overwhelming criticism, and in nearly three hours of testimony many of the groups affected told lawmakers that repealing the funds and taking their balances would destroy their only dedicated sources of income, forcing many to make severe cuts or even shut down entirely.

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