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Finance committee approves $18.9 billion state budget

HONOLULU — A spending blueprint for the 2023-24 and 2024-25 fiscal years cleared a key legislative hurdle on Wednesday.

The House Finance Committee unanimously approved the operating and capital improvement budget for the fiscal years after holding a number of hearings throughout the legislative session. The state of Hawai‘i budget, which prioritizes deferred maintenance and natural resources, weighed in at $18.9 billion.

House Finance Chair Kyle Yamashita (District 12, Upcountry Maui) said the committee took a methodical approach in crafting the budget, which includes restoring funding to critical programs cut during the COVID-19 pandemic. The committee also tackled long standing, large, one-time funding priorities, as well as shoring up reserve funds in order to withstand an economic downturn.

“The Legislature entered (fiscal year) 2023 with a fiscal surplus, which pushed us to be very careful in developing the budget. This budget proposes to spend $1.3 billion on deferred maintenance, which not only includes a backlog in facilities repair, but our most valuable resource, our natural environment — our parks, forests and ocean resources,” said Yamashita in a statement.

“The intention is not to immediately spend the money, but to strategically tackle these projects to ensure that the state receives the best value while keeping the projects’ timetables in mind. Additionally, Medicaid, health care, kupuna care, homeless services, climate change and affordable housing remain priority issues for the residents of Hawai‘i.”

The budget, formally known as House Bill 300, now heads to the House floor, and is anticipated to make its way to the Senate next week. It will likely take weeks before the budget is finalized.

“We have much more work to do in analyzing budget proposals until we get to a final version in May,” said Yamashita in a statement.

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Wyatt Haupt Jr., editor, can be reached at 808-245-0457 or whaupt@thegardenisland.com.
Source: The Garden Island

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