The following letter of reprimand was delivered to Representative Faye Hanohano (Puna) today.
Thursday, March 6, 2014
This afternoon, Representative Jessica Wooley (Kaneohe, Heeia, Ahuimanu, Kahaluu, Haiku Valley, Mokuoloe) was appointed by Governor Neil Abercrombie to serve as the Director of the State Office of Environmental Quality Control.
The OEQC Director is tasked with providing advice and assistance regarding Chapter 343, HRS, to private industry, government agencies, and community groups, conducting research, legislative initiatives, public outreach, and recommending programs for the long-range implementation of environmental quality control.
Elected in 2008, Wooley currently represents District 48 (Kahaluu-Ahuimanu-Kaneohe) in the state House, serving as chair of the Agriculture Committee. Previously, she was an attorney at Legal Aid, an economist at the University of Hawaii at Manoa and Deputy Attorney General under Governors Ben Cayetano and Linda Lingle.
Wooley earned a bachelor’s degree in economics from the University of California, Santa Cruz, along with a master’s degree in agricultural and resource economics and a Juris Doctor from the University of California Berkeley.
“As a public servant, I see this as a tremendous opportunity to have a greater impact. I will be honored to work with the Governor and his administration as we continually work to make sure our environment is resilient and able to support the public interest and all of Hawaii's policy goals. We must always keep in mind that our very economy, our health and our safety depend on our ability to care for our environmental resources,” said Representative Wooley.
HOUSE BILL directs the PUC to accommodate modernization of Hawaii’s electric grid system
Changes needed to meet anticipated growth of individual solar energy generation
The House passed a measure that will help resolve the inability for thousands of Hawaii families to install photovoltaic solar panels while being left in limbo by electric utilities. The measure directs the Public Utilities Commission to establish new guidelines and rules that will support the upgrade and modernization of Hawaii’s electric grid and accommodate growing energy generation from residential and business customers.
Representative Chris Lee (Kailua, Waimanalo) who introduced the bill said, “We cannot let families make an investment to save on their electric bills but then be left waiting months or years for utilities to finally connect them to the grid. They should be able to connect to the grid in a reasonable time and at a reasonable cost, and know what to expect before they put their money down.”
HB 1943, HD 2 asks the commission to address technical, policy and economic issues associated with modernizing the state’s electric grid and include policies that would support a diverse portfolio of renewable energy resources and expand options for customers to manage their own energy use. The measure also directs the PUC to begin proceedings to discuss upgrades to the grid no later than July 14, 2014. The bill was drafted in response to the inability of the current grid system to accommodate all of the individuals and businesses interested in purchasing their own photovoltaic system and hooking it up to the grid.
Wednesday, March 5, 2014
HOUSE FINANCE COMMITTEE SETS CAUTIOUS APPROACH
TO DEMANDS ON BUDGET SURPLUS
Goal to responsibly balance current and future needs of State
“As stewards of the taxpayers’ money, we have an obligation to both spend wisely on today’s needs and to ensure that we have enough to be prepared for the challenges of the future,” said Representative Luke, Chair of the House Finance Committee. “There has been a lot made about the $844 million surplus we presently enjoy. To put that in perspective: In 2007, we were sitting on about $720 million in surplus, which was used by the State to provide tax relief, tax credits, and funding for various programs. Starting in October 2008, the economy went into a steep recession and we had to deal with a $2.1 billion deficit over 3 years.”
Recently, state Department of Business, Economic Development and Tourism lowered their forecast for economic growth in Hawaii for this year and next due to smaller-than-expected gains in visitor arrivals and spending. The Hawaii Tourism Authority recently noted that visitor expenditures in our economy are down 4.7% compared to last year. On average, visitors to Hawaii spent $10 less per day.
“We want to ensure that government and the services that people rely on are consistent and sustainable for the long term, and can withstand the cyclical nature of the economy. A sound and far-sighted budget allows the State to operate confidently and plan strategically for the future. We want to make sure that the structural foundation of our house is stable before adding on more rooms,” Luke said.
Operating Supplemental Budget totals:
FY 2014: $5,983,138,830 General Funds
FY 2015: $6,253,466,812 General Funds
FY 2014: $11,765,895,027 All Means of Financing
FY 2015: $12,148,698,349 All Means of Financing
Capital Improvement Program Supplemental Budget totals:
FY 2014: $973,131,000 General Obligation Bond Funds
FY 2015: $787,524,000 General Obligation Bond Funds
FY 2014: $2,234,685,000 All Means of Financing Funds
FY 2015: $2,468,096,000 All Means of Financing Funds
Funding highlights include:
Department of Education
Allocations include funds for individual schools based on the DOE’s Weighted Student Formula; the federal Race To The Top program; and launching of the State’s preschool program.
• $14,482,086 for the Weighted Student Formula to be distributed to schools statewide
• $674,924 to fund programs focused on helping students become college-ready, including:
o $120,545 to offer extended-day classes to high-risk students and
o $554,379 to fund an Advanced Placement (AP) Incentive program to prepare students for AP tests.
• $4,658,380 to continue critical programs started with federal funds under the Race To The Top program, and implement the Strive HI Initiative designed to improve the quality of education statewide, including
o $1,105,208 to provide mentoring and professional development to teachers;
o $1,327,700 to evaluate teacher effectiveness and school performance;
o $1,925,472 to provide tailored support to the lowest performing 15% of DOE schools; and
o $300,000 to upgrade systems so that teachers are awarded pay raises based on their effectiveness.
• $3,000,000 to launch a prekindergarten program at DOE schools to prepare the State's four-year-olds to enter kindergarten
• $300,000 for the State Public Library System to offer extended public service hours in eight Neighbor Island libraries that currently have no weekend hours
• $200,000 to provide extended security service hours in libraries statewide
• $597,219 to continue the Hawaii State Public Library System's Broadband Technology Opportunities Program, which allows patrons to access computers in libraries and borrow netbooks for free
University of Hawaii
The bulk of the funds will go to restore previous faculty and staff salary cuts during the recent economic slowdown and funds for the community colleges.
• $39,857,688 for collective bargaining agreements, salary restoration, and increases to support the University of Hawaii:
o $14,000,000 for UHPA faculty salary restoration of salary reductions from 2010-2011
o $6,357,688 for HGEA and UPW labor savings restoration of cuts imposed between 2009-2010; and
o $19,500,000 for faculty salary increases in FY14 and FY15
• $1,000,000 to support Hawaii’s community colleges by providing for outcome based funding tied to student performance and graduation rates
Department of Accounting and General Services
Allocations will allow DAGS to stabilize State’s infrastructural and capital improvement needs, including those relating to elections.
• $102,624 for the Office of Elections to reestablish critical positions
• $346,668 to establish an online statewide voter registration system
Department of Public Safety
Expansion of the department’s mental health programs are among its top priorities.
• $1,599,730 to expand mental health care programs for the purpose of instituting nationally accepted mental health care standards
• $592,146 to upgrade and replace outdated equipment, including surveillance camera systems, at various correctional facilities statewide
• $130,000 to expand the Sex Offender's Treatment Program (SOTP)
Department of Defense
Allocations were made to support National Guard, Air National Guard and Civil Defense priorities.
• $1,989,856 in federal funds and $652,179 in general funds to support the Hawaii Air National Guard facility at the Joint Base Pearl Harbor Hickam
• $1,000,000 for the purpose of mitigating hazardous situations statewide, including rockfall mitigation
Department of Health
Funding for critical laboratory and specialized equipment, as well as assistance for children with developmental and special health needs highlight the department’s budget allocations.
• $482,000 for new equipment at the state labs for environmental monitoring of water, air, and soil, and in the regulation of agriculture and food safety. Tests which used to take hours to complete can be completed in minutes
• $2,800,000 for the Hilo Medical center residency program
• $2,970,383 shortfalls in federally mandated services
• $1,530,000 to the developmental disability division to provide care for the most developmentally handicapped
• $1,430,000 for the children with special health needs branch to provide early intervention services to young children
Department of Business, Economic Development, and Tourism
Allocations include funding for clean energy initiatives and to foster economic international relations.
• $1,225,000 for initiatives that contribute to the development of renewable and efficient energy in Hawaii and meet Hawaii Clean Energy Initiative goals:
o $475,000 for technical assistance with inter-island cable issues;
o $500,000 for the Energy Excelerator (Energy-Focused Economic Development Program); and
o $250,000 for technical expertise for upcoming Public Utility Commission dockets
• $1,094,000 to foster Hawaii’s foreign relations and domestic economy through supporting international education programs with:
o $394,000 to support understaffed Beijing and Taipei state offices;
o $150,000 for an International Student Attraction program;
o $300,000 for a China Visa Streamlining Project; and
o $250,000 for fostering sister-state relationships
Department of Human Services
Monies will go to assist at-risk youth, child care for low-income working families and the Housing First Program.
• $2,641,996 to raise the general assistance monthly payment to $348
• $1,500,000 for the Housing First Program to house the most vulnerable and chronically homeless and coordinate intensive support services.
• $3,500,000 for the Child Care Connection Hawaii and First-to-Work child care subsidy programs to reduce out of pocket expenses for parents who are working or going to school
• $2,200,000 million for the REACH program, which engages at-risk middle and intermediate school students in after-school activities.
Department of Labor and Industrial Relations
Funds will go for an electronic case management system to improve the Disability Compensation Program.
• $1,250,000 for an electronic case management system to increase efficiency, reduce paperwork, and provide better customer service in the Disability Compensation Program
Department of Land and Natural Resources
Monies will support conservation and enforcement efforts of the department.
• $1,700,000 for training and operating supplies needed to adequately equip Division of Conservation and Resource Enforcement (DOCARE) officers
• $1,000,000 and 12 positions for DOCARE officers to be deployed on Maui, Hawaii, and Kauai
Funds allocated included support to provide essential treatment for adult and juvenile offenders and their victims.
• $1,700,000 to restructure the budget of the Judiciary so it can reclassify critical positions, eliminate vacancies, and restore operational stability
• $198,493 to expand programs for vulnerable clients who receive services for mental health issues
• $789,000 to provide essential treatment to adult and juvenile offenders and their victims
• $152,788 to ensure continuation of periodic drug testing of offenders in the Judiciary's Project HOPE (Hawaii's Opportunity Probation with Enforcement) Program
• $339,930 and 2 deputy sheriff positions for the 3rd Circuit and 4 deputy sheriff positions for the 1st Circuit
• $131,000 for purchase of service contracts in the 1st Circuit