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House passes $6.5 billion general fund budget

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A proposed budget of $6.5 billion in general funds was approved by the House Finance Committee on Wednesday.

“The idea is not just to spend conservatively but to create a mindset for the state to spend within its means as a matter of consistent practice,” said committee chairwoman Rep. Sylvia Luke (Makiki, Punchbowl, Nuuanu, Dowsett Highlands, Pacific Heights, Pauoa), in a press release. 

“Too often in years past, the state spent whatever monies it collected in good times and pulled in the reins in bad.  Our long-term obligations were the cans that were kicked down the road.  That’s why we are in the position we are in today.  We hope this budget will change that mindset once and for all,” Luke said.

The full House is scheduled to vote on the proposed biennium budget for fiscal years 2015-2016 and 2016-2017 next week.

The proposed budget also puts $369 million that typically would go to the University of Hawaii’s general fund into the UH System Office instead.

“When we took up the autonomy bill, one of the things the Legislature considered was lump sum budgeting, which is a truer form of autonomy,” Luke said. “While this is a drastic change from the past, we will be working with the university to see if this provides better flexibility, as well as accountability, to work through its fiscal issues more effectively.”   

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