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Hawaii lawmakers pass $12.1B budget, debate bills


 The Hawaii Legislature has approved a $12.1 billion state budget and is wrapping up work on hundreds of bills as the session draws near its close.

On Tuesday, lawmakers approved final spending on programs and construction projects for 2015 after a debate ranging from space exploration to foster children. They sent the budget to Gov. Neil Abercrombie.

House members passed the budget unanimously after complaining about the high cost of tuition at the University of Hawaii. They had raised doubts about increases to the university budget.

Big decisions ahead in bills included whether to allow same-day voter registration in elections and whether to make kindergarten mandatory statewide. A historic land deal to preserve 660 acres on Oahu’s North Shore and funding to sustain Hawaii’s troubled health exchange also hang in the balance.

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