Fri, May 6, 2022 12:41 PM
By By Kim Jarrett The Center Square, The Center Square
(The Center Square) - For the first time in two years, Hawaiian lawmakers were not facing billion-dollar deficits during their legislative session.
The amount of money available to lawmakers to spend increased every time the Council of Revenues met, adding more than $6 billion in increased revenues, Gov. David Ige said.
"That certainly gave us the opportunity to response to many needs in the community," Ige said shortly after the legislative session ended Thursday. "We've committed more than a billion dollars to native Hawaiian issues and provided funding for the Office of Hawaii affairs. We do believe that it allows us to really begin to fulfill the commitment to the Hawaiian Homestead Program."
The state settled a 23-year-old lawsuit filed in 1999 involving 2,721 claimants who were beneficiaries of the Hawaiian Home Lands Trust under the Hawaiian Homes Commission Act of 1920. The Legislature approved a $328 million allocation to pay for the settlement.
Lawmakers allocated $1 billion for affordable housing. About $300 million of it will go into the Rental Housing Revolving Fund, according to House Speaker Scott Saiki.
"For the first time, funding has been set aside (up to $150 million) to develop rental housing for working individuals and families with incomes about sixty and at or below 100% of the median family income for the state of Hawaii," Saiki said in an email.
Ige asked for $1 billion for the state's rainy day fund but said he thought the $500 million approved by the Legislature was "a significant investment."
Lawmakers also passed a bill that would give taxpayers a rebate of $100 to 300 depending on their income. Another bill gradually raised the state's minimum wage from $10.10 an hour to $18 an hour by 2028.
The governor said he would be going through the appropriations measures and making an assessment. He has 45 days to decide if he will veto any of the bills passed.