OFFICE OF THE GOVERNOR — News Release — Governor making modifications to budget, coronavirus relief bill with line-item vetoes

Posted on Jul 30, 2020 in Latest News, Press Releases

July 30, 2020

HONOLULU – Gov. David Ige today notified the House and Senate that he will be making some modifications to SB126 with eight line-item vetoes.

The primary concern is the federal government is requiring that all CARES funds must be expended by the end of the year. The state is waiting for the U.S. Congress to act on appropriate additional COVID-19 funding. Only then will the state have more clarity on what can or should be done to support new programs established by the CARES funds. The governor and his administration have been working with House and Senate leadership to respond appropriately.

“I am committed to supporting Hawai‘i residents who have been impacted by COVID-19. That includes continuing to provide standard UI benefits, even if the U.S. Congress fails to extend the plus up federal benefits,” said Gov. Ige. “We will need maximum flexibility to use the funds where they are needed most. It will not serve our community if the funds are designated for a specific purpose by the budget bill, and the funds are not used because they were not necessary or they were duplicated by potential federal support. These are unprecedented times when we are facing enormous budget challenges as a result of COVID-19. Difficult decisions will have to be made.”

The line-item vetoes for SB126 include:

  1. Decreased from $90M to $70M, the appropriation out of the Emergency and Budget Reserve Fund for airport screening and health assurance security initiatives. Rationale: The Department of Transportation believes, and I agree, that $70M will be sufficient for equipment and services to test, verify and monitor travelers, and for other health assurance security initiatives as needed.
  2. Decreased from $230M to 0, the appropriation out of the Emergency and Budget Reserve Fund to provide an additional weekly unemployment benefit of $100 per week to state eligible recipients. Rationale: The U.S. Congress is negotiating another economic stimulus package. Since the package is not yet clear, and because I must act now – I must line-item veto this appropriation. The most effective use of these funds to support the needs of the community, will be determined once Congress has acted.
  3. Decreased the $100M appropriation out of the Emergency and Budget Reserve Fund to $50M for housing and rental assistance and administrative costs related to the housing relief and resiliency program. Rationale: The Hawai‘i Housing Finance and Development Corporation (HHFDC) believes, and I agree, that an initial working capital of $50M is sufficient to start a program from now until the end of the year. It will help renters and homeowners who have experienced a reduction in income because of unemployment or reduction in work hours due to COVID-19. If additional funding is needed beyond the initial working capital amount, it will be provided at a later date. For example, the bill only provides benefits from Aug. 1 through the end of the year. Funds saved by the reduction may be applied to the period March 1 through Aug. 1.
  4. Decreased the $100M appropriation out of the Emergency Budget and Reserve Fund to $61M for the purchase and distribution of personal protective equipment (PPE) to hospitals, childcare facilities, elderly care facilities, businesses, non-profits, and schools. Rationale:  The appropriation does not include the purchase and distribution of sanitation or disinfectant supplies. The Department of Defense believes, and I agree, that $61M is sufficient for the purchase and distribution of PPE to eligible organizations. The remaining funds will be used to purchase and distribute sanitation and disinfectant supplies.
  5. Decreased the $36M appropriation out of the Emergency Budget and Reserve Fund to $10M for retraining and workforce development programs. Rationale:  According to the Department of Business, Economic Development, and Tourism’s business plan, $10M is sufficient to launch workforce retraining programs for individuals impacted by COVID-19. Additional funding will be provided as needed.
  6. Decreased the $15M appropriation out of the Emergency and Budget Reserve Fund to $10M  to support emerging industries to create a supply chain for cleaning supplies and PPE. Rationale: The Hawai‘i Technology Development Corporation believes, and I agree, that $10M is sufficient to provide start-up funding to businesses in this emerging industry. An additional $5M may be available later.
  7. Decreased the $2M appropriation out of the Emergency and Budget Reserve Fund to $1M for a public-private partnership (PPP) to provide support to public high school seniors who were adversely affected by school closures in their final semester of school. Rationale: An initial working capital of $1M is adequate to begin establishing these programs. As they become successful, additional funds may be provided.
  8. Decreased the  $1,080,000,605 appropriation out of the Emergency and Budget Reserve Fund to $648M for deposit into the general fund. Rationale: I understand that, of the $1,080,000,605 appropriated for deposit into the general fund, $432,000,605 of that amount represents fiscal biennium 2019-2021 general fund appropriation reductions. A general fund appropriation reduction does not represent cash – it represents reduced spending authority. Consequently, this appropriation is overstated by $432,000,605.

As is the normal process, Gov. Ige returned the unsigned bill (with line-item vetoes) to the House and Senate today. He will then sign and submit SB126 (with line-item vetoes) to the Legislature tomorrow.

Link to video here

Link to photos here

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Media Contacts:

Jodi Leong
Deputy Communications
Director/Press Secretary
Office of the GovernorOffice: 808-586-0043
[email protected]

Cindy McMillan
Communications Director
Office of the Governor
Office: 808-586-0012
[email protected]