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Ige paints rosier budget picture

Gov. David Ige unveiled Monday his Executive Supplemental Budget for the next two fiscal years, which restores funding to agencies that previously had their budgets cut because of the COVID-19 pandemic.

Ige’s proposed budget in fiscal year 2023 would see the current budget appropriation increase by more than 10% from the current appropriation to $16.9 billion.

“This budget request is very different from our budgets of the last two years, in which we had to cut over a billion dollars and all agencies had to slash spending,” Ige said during a news conference Monday. “This year, the economy has improved more quickly than anticipated. … This is due to a variety of factors, including increased consumer spending, our Safe Travels program and the rapid recovery of the visitor arrivals, and healthy general excise and income tax collections.”

Ige highlighted an increase to the state Department of Education’s budget, with nearly $700 million planned for the DOE, including $100 million to restore programs cut at the beginning of the pandemic, $78 million for repair and maintenance costs, $10 million for worker compensation and more.

The budget also adds nearly $60 million to the University of Hawaii, about $2.3 million of which would go to the University of Hawaii in Hilo.

“This investment in education will provide our schools with predicable and reliable funding so that we can focus on our students and provide the supports they need,” said Keith Hayashi, interim DOE superintendent.

Ige’s capital improvement budget also includes more than $200 million for maintenance and improvements throughout the public school system.

Other highlights of the proposed budget include a $25 million increase to Medicaid health care payments and a requested $33.3 million in American Rescue Plan funds that the state would match in order to receive even more federal funds to extend broadband accessibility throughout the state.

Ige also announced that the budget would restore $17 million to the state Department of Public Safety in order to bring staffing back to prepandemic levels and alleviate prison staffing shortages.

The budget also includes $61 million for continuing COVID-19-related expenditures, such as the Safe Travels and National Guard costs, as well as another $30 million for contingency funding.

Email Michael Brestovansky at mbrestovansky@hawaiitribune-herald.com.
Source: Hawaii Tribune Herald

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