Friday, March 14, 2014

Kauai Representative Morikawa sees new approach to the legislative budget process

The House of Representatives earlier this week approved HB1700 HD1, which appropriates funds for operating and capital improvement costs of the Executive Branch for the supplemental year FY2014-2015, including operating monies of $6.253 billion in general funds and $12.148 billion in all means of financing. The measure now goes to the Senate for its consideration.

The House bill of this year’s budget included funding for a number of significant Kauai projects and programs, according to Garden Isle Representative Daynette “Dee” Morikawa (Niihau, Lehua, Waimea, Koloa), including $150,000 to study erosion on south and west shore beaches on Kauai.

For Morikawa, a member of the House Finance Committee, this year’s budgeting process also marked a refreshing change in the way legislative budgets have been built in the past.

“Transparency in budgeting is the message we want to send to our departments and state agencies, as they come to us for funding,” said Morikawa, who is a member of the Finance Committee. She noted that the House has taken a significant step in that direction. 

Under this new approach, agencies were challenged to identify the unbudgeted expenses that caused shortages. For example, departments have in the past absorbed these costs by holding positions vacant, delayed hiring, or transferring funds to cover the shortages.

“This is not a sound and transparent budgeting process. We need to stress that positions allotted by the Legislature should be utilized for staffing. They should not be used for other expenses. This method misrepresents the true budget picture and may result in a loss of confidence in how government provides services,” Morikawa said.

“The changes proposed thus far are first steps, and each solution is unique to the relevant agency and its needs. We need to continue engaging in this dialogue with the rest of state government to bring back more transparency in budgeting,” Morikawa said.

No comments: