$24.9M approved for quake recovery
Lingle warns, though, that using rainy-day funds is fiscally unwise
Gov. Linda Lingle has given final approval to a bill appropriating $24.9 million for disaster recovery efforts stemming from the Oct. 15 earthquakes, but says she will ask the Legislature to come back next year and change the source of funding.
House Bill 1345 uses $900,000 in general funds and $24 million from the state's State Emergency and Budget Reserve Fund, also known as the rainy-day fund.
Use of the rainy-day money, which amounts to about half of the fund balance, is "not fiscally prudent," Lingle said in a news release.
"The fund is already too low, according to nationally recognized (bond rating) agencies such as Standard and Poor's, Moody's and Fitch," she added.
House Finance Chairman Marcus Oshiro (D, Wahiawa-Poamoho) said a large portion of the funds is eligible for reimbursement, and that after the state funds are spent, the Federal Emergency Management Agency will reimburse the state with federal funds.
The $900,000 in general funds is earmarked for the state Department of Defense for operational expenses incurred while providing quake assistance.
The rest of the money is what the state is required to put up to obtain matching federal emergency dollars for structural repairs and earthquake mitigation projects.
Lingle said her administration would work with lawmakers next year to find general funds that could be used as matching funds.
Oshiro, in an e-mail response, said that might not be possible.
"We tend to agree with leading economists in town who project a slowdown of the economy, which means that the state will not continue to have the kind of surpluses projected by the administration," he said.