Wednesday, April 16, 2014

Conference Committee Begins Negotiations on State Budget

House and Senate conferees met today to begin negotiations on a final version of HB1700, the state budget bill. Earlier, the House Finance Committee and the Senate Ways and Means Committee crafted their respective versions of the budget. They will continue meeting to iron out the differences between the two versions through April 25, the deadline for all fiscal bills to pass out of conference committee. A final conference draft will then be voted upon by the Legislature and if approved, will be sent to the Governor for his signature.

“The most recent projections by the Council on Revenues that forecasted a flatter rate of growth suggested we take a more prudent and conservative approach to structuring the State’s budget,” said Rep. Sylvia Luke (Makiki, Punchbowl, Nuuanu, Dowsett Highlands, Pacific Heights, Pauoa), House Finance Committee Chair.

“Nothing has changed to alter the wisdom of that approach since the House and Senate formulated their versions of the budget. It does not mean we do not spend at all, but that we do it prudently by focusing on our priorities and spending wisely.”

Luke said that approach meant “restraint” should be exercised when looking at programs that commit the State to significant dollars for the long term. She noted that a cautious approach also means reinforcing the State’s emergency reserves, such as the “rainy day” fund, and ensuring that sufficient funds are available for the State’s long-term financial obligations such as the State’s unfunded liabilities.

Finance Vice-Chair Scott Nishimoto, Finance Chair Sylvia Luke, and Ways and Means Chair David Ige
Also today, the committee highlighted several budget items upon which there was agreement in the House and Senate budget drafts.
  • $1,500,000 for the Housing First Program to address homelessness in the state.
  • $7,359,000 for Wiki Wiki shuttle buses at Honolulu International Airport to support the state’s visitor industry at the points of entry and exit.
  • $1,000,000 in funding for campus enrollment support positions at University of Hawaii-West Oahu.
  • An appropriation of $318,486 for the Executive Office on Aging grant programs.
Budget worksheets detailing agreements and disagreements in the state and judiciary budget bills are available on the Capitol website at

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