Lingle asks $10.5B over 2 years
Her budget plan also includes $2.1 billion for construction, but no word on rebates
Gov. Linda Lingle laid out her spending plan for Hawaii yesterday, presenting the Legislature with a two-year, $10.5 billion general fund budget heavy on money for education and social services.
The Lingle administration also submitted a $2.1 billion budget for capital improvement projects, which the governor said was an increase of about $600 million from the last CIP budget, submitted two years ago.
MILLIONS FOR SCHOOLS
Some highlights from Gov. Linda Lingle's two-year budget submitted to the Legislature yesterday:
» $142 million in new funding for operations is recommended for food services, student transportation, special-education teachers and assistants, substitute teachers and purchases of classroom furniture and equipment for new schools and facilities.
» $51.6 million each year for charter schools.
» $35.2 million each year to operate the public libraries, including additional funds to buy books and library materials.
» $60 million in new funding for general operations at the University of Hawaii system.
» $160 million in general obligation bonds for the University of Hawaii system, with $35 million targeted for the infrastructure to build the UH-West Oahu campus.
HEALTH AND HUMAN SERVICES
» $20 million for outpatient mental health services for more than 5,000 adults.
» $3.1 million for increased staffing at community mental health centers for counseling and treatment.
HOUSING AND HOMELESS PROGRAMS
» $13 million in general funds for services at homeless shelters.
» $10 million in general funds for maintenance and repair of vacant units in public housing projects.
» $40 million in general obligation bonds for repairs and renovations to public-housing buildings.
» $50 million in general funds to the Rental Housing Trust Fund.
» $30.8 million for assessment, maintenance and remediation of dams and reservoirs on all islands.
» $20 million for state park improvements.
» $20 million for small-harbor improvements.
Although she went into some detail on her budget for the next two fiscal years, Lingle revealed little of her intentions for tax cuts or a proposed reshaping of the state's economy away from land development, which she outlined in her inaugural address earlier this month.
More detail on those goals is expected in her State of the State address late next month.
"We will be proposing substantial tax relief measures," Lingle said at a news conference in her office.
How much? "That's still under discussion," she added. "We have a lot of proposals from the different departments, and we haven't made final decisions yet on which ones to go forward with."
The state Constitution requires that the government return excess money to taxpayers if the general fund balance at the close of two consecutive fiscal years exceeds 5 percent of the general fund revenues, which has happened.
But neither Lingle nor lawmakers have said what form the rebate might take or how much it might be for taxpayers.
"I can guarantee the general public that there will be a tax rebate," House Speaker Calvin Say said yesterday. "At what dollar amount, it depends on the negotiations with the Senate, along with the administration."
House lawmakers -- who will get first crack at fleshing out the details of the budget once the legislative session begins Jan. 17 -- declined specific comment on the budget yesterday, saying they had not had a chance to review it in detail.
"The devil is in the details," said Say (D, St. Louis Heights-Wilhelmina Rise-Palolo Valley). "Once we get a better grasp of what the details are, I think then we can respond much more easily."
Lingle's budget predicts a budget surplus of $454.4 million on June 30, the end of the 2007 fiscal year.
General fund spending would increase from $4.93 billion in 2007 to $5.17 billion in fiscal year 2008, and rise to $5.28 billion in fiscal 2009.
State Budget Director Georgina Kawamura said the budget was based on predictions made in September by the state Council on Revenues.
At its meeting last week, the council maintained its September forecast for fiscal years 2007 and 2008 but projected lower revenues in later years starting in 2009.
Kawamura noted that the new forecast would be used as the administration and Legislature work out the budget over the next few months. The council is scheduled to deliver its next forecast about midway through the session, but Lingle said her spending plan would be able to adapt.
"As we move through the two-year period of this budget, we will continue to manage our cash flow in a very fiscally responsible way," Lingle said. "So if revenues start to adjust, we will adjust spending."
General fund money accounts for about half of the state's overall financial plan. Total spending, which includes money from special funds, bonds, private contributions, revolving funds and other revenue sources, is about $20.78 billion in the fiscal biennium.
"I think the budget that she has submitted to us is a very ambitious one," Say said.