Hawaii lawmakers rush to fund deluge of bills
By ANITA HOFSCHNEIDER
HONOLULU — Committees of negotiators in the Hawaii Legislature have approved funding for several new initiatives, including proposals to revitalize emergency funds, create a new school readiness program and establish a new entrepreneurship initiative.
Sen. David Ige and Rep. Sylvia Luke decided Friday to set aside millions for relief funds for hurricanes and other emergencies.
Lawmakers also chose to fund Gov. Neil Abercrombie’s plan for a school readiness program and his plan to encourage innovation, although they chose to dedicate much less than Abercrombie’s original request.
The proposals approved by committees still need to pass House and Senate floor votes before they can become law.
Abercrombie originally requested $20 million for his innovation plan, but the committee voted Friday to set aside just $6 million.
Abercrombie’s plan for preschool was also vastly underfunded compared to his request. The bill provides $1.16 million over two years for administrative costs and $6 million in the second year for subsidies, and it will help more than 900 kids, Sen. Jill Tokuda said. Abercrombie initially requested about $32 million to provide services for thousands of kids.
Hawaii lawmakers have been meeting in committees all day Friday in a final rush to negotiate funding on the remaining bills of the legislative session. Friday is the last day to approve the final versions of bills.
Lawmakers are also negotiating proposals in issues related to tax credits, unfunded liabilities, energy, health care and land development.
Several initiatives that looked promising throughout the session haven’t survived the negotiation process. Lawmakers killed a proposal to give an income tax credit to teachers for money spent on school supplies. A committee also deferred another proposal that would have included nonresident military members in the state’s process of deciding how many lawmakers should represent each district.
The legislative session is scheduled to end Thursday.
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