Hawaii's Budget Options: Raid Special Funds or Freeze Spending
The senator in charge of finalizing the state's budget says Hawaii lawmakers have just two options to balance this year's budget: raid special funds or "completely shut down spending."
Hawaii faces an estimated $1.3 billion deficit between now and the end of the 2013 budget year. In the short term, lawmakers need to make up a $232 million shortfall in the next three months to meet the state requirement for a balanced budget.
"We'll have to find moneys already in the budget and try and divert them, or completely shut down spending. Really, that's the only two options to close the deficit in the current fiscal year," said Sen. David Ige, chairman of the Ways and Means Committee.
Ige's committee heard testimony Monday on House Bill 200, the House's draft budget. (Read a related story about the hearing by Chad Blair.) The Senate is now in charge of proposing a balanced budget for the current year and the upcoming two budget years. The committee did not make a decision Monday, but Ige said they've already made cuts from the $10.98 billion in spending for fiscal 2012 and $10.97 billion for fiscal 2013 in the House budget. A Senate budget draft is expected by the end of next week.