Mon, Dec 18, 2023 12:25 PM
By Kim Jarrett, The Center Square
Hawaii Gov. Josh Green is asking for $326 million for the operating budget and an additional $890 million in general obligation funds in his supplement fiscal year 2025 budget.
Much of what was released Monday includes funding to rebuild Maui, which was devastated by a wildfire in August.
The request would set aside $186.2 million for ongoing recovery costs and $200 million for the Risk Management Revolving Fund to pay for claims due to the fire. An additional $10 million would be designated for general fire and emergency response equipment.
Green asked for $35.4 million in the capital improvement budget to improve wildfire mitigation. Most of the funding is federal – $26.4 million – while $2.4 million is in general obligation bond funds and $6.6 million is in revenue bonds.
“In addition to disaster preparation and mitigation, many of the proposed funds will advance key priority initiatives across the state, such as increasing access to quality healthcare, fully resourcing our public education systems, and accelerating the development of affordable housing and essential infrastructure,” Green said.
The governor asks lawmakers to convert some capital improvement funds to general obligation bond funds. The projects include:
Twenty-five million dollars for capital renewal and deferred maintenance for the University of Hawaii and the state's community college.Thirty million dollars for system modernization at the University of HawaiiThe Hawaii Housing Finance and Development Corporation's Dwelling Unit Revolving Fund would have $50 million and another $180 million for the agency's Rental Housing Revolving Fund.
Also on the list is the conversion of $100 million of a $200 million general fund appropriation for the School Facilities Authority to a bond fund. That would be done in a separate bill, according to Green's proposal.
“This approach frees up valuable general funds for wildfire recovery costs while supporting the continuation of projects by providing them with a longer implementation period through bond financing,” said Luis P. Salaveria, the state's finance director.
The fires that swept through West Maui killed 100 people and damaged or destroyed more than 200 buildings. The cause remains under investigation.
“The full costs of the recovery will unfold over time, and we are financially prepared to address those needs, but we cannot afford to stop our progress on our key priorities," Green said. "This budget allows us to continue our important initiatives and support the recovery and resiliency of our state."