Tue, Dec 20, 2022 1:10 AM
By Kim Jarrett, The Center Square
Hawaii Gov. Josh Green allocated more than $25 million to address the state's housing needs and $70.4 million for health care initiatives in his first budget proposal.
The $9.8 billion spending plan for fiscal year 2024 is $667 million more than last year's budget. The governor is proposing a $9.6 billion budget for fiscal year 2025.
The plan includes $50 million to expand the intensive care and surgical units at Hilo Medical Center.
"As a physician, I see the dire need for healthcare and to address this, we need to take a multi-pronged and holistic approach to address our healthcare worker shortage and access to high quality care," Green said. "Therefore, in this budget, I included expanding Hilo Medical Center, improving healthcare access to low-income families by increasing the Medicaid reimbursement rate, and providing educational programs to expand our ability to train and retain high quality medical professionals in our state."
The proposed budget also includes $15 million in fiscal years 2024 and 2025 for the Ohana Zones pilot program that has placed 1,368 people into permanent housing. Another $10.8 million is set aside for the Rapid Re-Housing and Housing First programs.
Green's plan includes $500 million for Hawaii's Rainy Day Fund.
"The state is in a strong financial position and that means that while we need to fund critical items that meet the needs of our community, we also need to be fiscally responsible and make sure we are putting money aside so that we don't have to cut critical services when times get tough," Green said.
Green said the budget is only the beginning.
"I worked with the prior administration to include some high priority items in this budget submittal, but I am still reviewing other requests from our state agencies and will be working with them to transmit additional budget items to the Legislature in the coming months," Green said. "We know there is a lot of need in the state, and we are going to address it."
The governor also released $50 million in nonprofit grants on Monday that were held as lawmakers and the attorney general consulted on the language of the bill appropriating the grants.
"We know that these nonprofits are relying on these funds to serve our most vulnerable in the community," Green said. "What better time than the holiday season to give relief and much needed support to these community partners."