Tuesday, December 18, 2007

State Budget 2008 - Kickoff

The Lingle administration unveiled their supplemental budget request yesterday, covered by the Advertiser here and the SB here. The response from House Finance Chair Marcus Oshiro was measured. It's still early and there appears to be agreement on the state's financial priorities: housing, education, and transportation infrastructure. The differences will surface in the amount of the allocations. And what exactly are those tax cuts? Still to come is the report from the Council on Revenues in early January that may influence the direction of the numbers. The governor appears to be using the strategy of increasing spending on CIP (capitol improvement projects) to invigorate a predicted economic slowdown. Finance Chair Oshiro says "he's not there yet" regarding the need to implement that strategy, questioning whether there is a need for more public projects. You can read the highlights in the newspaper reports, but here are some of the items that didn't get as much ink:

*The establishment of 108 positions in the Department of Education for autism services, previously handled by contract personnel. No budget amount was provided. This includes teachers, educational aides, social workers and behavioral specialists.

*$19.9 million for a Hawaiian Language building at UH-Hilo.

*$2.5 million for improvements to the library collection and services at UH Manoa campus.

*$33.5 million in special funds and revenue bonds for continued highway operations and to complete current highway projects on Oahu, Maui and Hawaii. $20 million emergency appropriation request to meet increases in highway operating costs, including special maintenance.

*$10 million for adult mental health outpatient services as a result of growing caseloads and escalating costs.

*$10.5 million to expand energy conservation measures in public buildings statewide.

*And, $7.9 million for repairs to the State Capitol reflecting pools.

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