Budget bill neglects Lingle's rebate wishes
House lawmakers are advancing a $501 million supplemental budget that is heavy on spending for education and the University of Hawaii but with little room for massive tax cuts proposed by Gov. Linda Lingle.
General fund spending makes up about $248 million of the total amount. While general fund spending is $9.3 million more than Lingle proposed, overall spending -- which includes federal money, special funds and other revenue sources -- comes in about $27.8 million below the governor's plan.
The House Finance Committee completed its work on the supplemental budget Wednesday, two weeks ahead of the deadline for the full chamber to vote on the measure and send it to the Senate.
Finance Chairman Dwight Takamine (D, Hawi-Hilo) said there is plenty of time left in the session and that all of the tax cut proposals "are still in play."
He also noted that the supplemental budget was crafted based on the December forecast from the Council on Revenues, which had predicted a budget surplus of about $574 million for the 2006 fiscal year, which ends June 30.
The Council's revised forecast, issued Monday, increases the projected surplus by about $60 million.
It will be up to the Senate to complete work on the budget and determine whether any tax cuts or tax bracket adjustments can be worked into the state's financial plan.
Both the House and Senate must agree to any changes before the measure can be sent to Lingle, who continues to push for up to $285 million in tax cuts.
"People need help right now," Lingle said. "The cost of living, of every necessity of life, has gone up, and we need to get this money back to them right now."
Lingle has pushed for a rebate and also supports Senate President Robert Bunda's call for an adjustment of the state's tax brackets to help lower-income taxpayers.
Takamine's counterpart, Senate Ways and Means Chairman Brian Taniguchi, has been less receptive to broad tax cuts.
Meanwhile, under the supplemental budget approved in Finance, the Department of Education would receive an additional $110 million in general funds for the 2007 fiscal year. For capital improvement projects, lawmakers have set aside $160 million in cash for large-scale school renovations and $50 million in cash and general obligation bonds for repair and maintenance.
The University of Hawaii would receive an additional $35.7 million in general funds in its operating budget and $84 million in cash and general obligation bonds for construction projects.
The quick work on the budget could indicate that lawmakers are setting themselves up to override any potential vetoes.
Two years ago, lawmakers completed work early on the supplemental budget, allowing them to also finish early on key spending proposals and still have enough time during the regular session to override some of Lingle's vetoes.
THE HOUSE'S SUPPLEMENTAL BUDGET INITIATIVES
A look at some of the funding measures included in the House's version of the supplemental budget. The bill faces one more vote by the full House before going to the Senate for further debate and crafting.
» $24.3 million for conversion to single-school calendar
» $20 million for transition to weighted student formula for funding
» $17.3 million for special-education needs
» $5 million for information technology
» $2 million for science textbooks
» $500,000 for advanced-placement teacher training, test costs and classroom materials
» $175,000 for PSAT testing for all 10th-graders
UNIVERSITY OF HAWAII
» $2.9 million for student financial aid
» $4.7 million for construction academy
» $2.6 million for nursing initiatives
» $1.9 million for native Hawaiian initiatives
» $521,000 for teacher development
» $250,000 for Travel Industry Management School
» $320,000 for School of Social Work
» $240,000 for Academy of Creative Media
Energy and Environment
» $2 million for coqui frog control, eradication and public education
» 10 million for renewable energy initiatives in all state buildings
» $10 million for retrofitting and hardening of buildings
» $11.7 million for transporting inmates to mainland facilities
Health and Human Services
» $24 million for increased enrollment in QUEST
» $7.6 million for dental services for low-income residents
» $2 million for rural hospitals
» $20 million for homeless shelters and services
» 10.4 million for repair and modernization of vacant units in federal and state public housing
Source: House Finance Committee