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StarBulletin.com

Lingle directs agencies to cut spending by $36 million


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POSTED: Tuesday, May 19, 2009

The Lingle administration is ordering $36.3 million in cuts that essentially requires state agencies to stop all discretionary spending.

Georgina Kawamura, state budget director, said yesterday the budget cuts are coming in advance of the May 28 meeting of the Council on Revenues, which is expected to lower Hawaii's tax collection forecast.

So far, the state has planned for a 5 percent drop in revenues, but actual tax collections are coming in at minus 6.8 percent, so Kawamura said the state is planning for bad news.

“;This is really time for all departments to show their management skills,”; she said, explaining that the governor wants a discretionary budget cut of 2 percent. “;They should not purchase anything else for the rest of the fiscal year.”;

In a written release, Lingle lashed out at the state Legislature, saying the cuts were needed because lawmakers did not follow her advice.

“;Due to the Legislature's unwillingness to pursue alternative, fair and reasonable solutions for closing the budget shortfall during these unprecedented economic times, we are forced to apply additional spending restrictions,”; she said.

The governor said her administration wanted to cut money from the Department of Education and replace it with money from the federal stimulus funds and also tap the state's rainy-day fund.

The Legislature refused both of Lingle's requests.

Yesterday, Speaker of the House Calvin Say said the Legislature is looking at the rainy-day fund to restore budget cuts expected next year and did not believe Lingle could properly take money from the Department of Education and replace it with federal funds.

“;I don't know where she is getting her figures,”; said Say (D, St. Louis Heights-Wilhelmina Rise-Palolo Valley).

The state's shrinking economy and lowered tax collections had previously forced Lingle to order discretionary budget cuts of 4 and 2 percent.