Gov. David Ige on Wednesday, July 6, outlined three line-item vetoes he intends to make to the state budget bill.
The governor submitted his line-item vetoes to the state Legislature and intends to sign House Bill 1600, the Supplemental Appropriations Act of 2022, today (Thursday, July 7). HB1600 appropriates funds for fiscal biennium 2021-23, to fund operations and capital improvement projects of executive branch agencies and programs.
As previously announced, Ige has line-item vetoed all appropriations for the Federal American Rescue Plan Coronavirus State Fiscal Recovery Funds. He has three reasons for the action.
First, Ige said the Legislature over-appropriated the funds by more than $104 million. He also said in a press release that lawmakers did not comply with the federally mandated Elementary and Secondary Schools Emergency Relief Funds Maintenance of Effort proportional funding requirement in appropriating funds to the state Department of Education and the University of Hawaiʻi. To meet the Maintenance of Effort requirement, American Rescue Plan funds must be allocated to the DOE and UH to increase their proportional levels of funding.
Ige is also line-item vetoing the American Rescue Plan Coronavirus State Fiscal Recovery funds so those funds can be reallocated to the essential work of the Hawaiʻi Tourism Authority.
“This is necessary because the ‘gut and replace’ procedure used to pass HB1147 was unconstitutional,” Ige said in the press release.
The governor is also line-item vetoing several appropriations because the appropriate due diligence, planning and permitting were not conducted prior to the appropriation of funds.
Ige is reducing the general fund appropriation for the Wahiawa Spillway and Lake Wilson Reservoir on O’ahu. The governor’s press release said neither the state Department of Agriculture nor the state Department of Land and Natural Resources has done due diligence work that would be a prerequisite for undertaking a project of this size. Consequently, it is unclear if sufficient funding is provided to acquire the designated parcels, repair and expand the spillway to bring it into compliance with dam safety requirements, operate the dam and irrigation system and operate and maintain the Lake Wilson Reservoir area.
“In addition, there is no clear framework as to the responsibilities of the Department of Agriculture, the Agribusiness Development Corporation and the DLNR regarding the operation and maintenance of the irrigation system and reservoir,” the press release said.
For these reasons, Ige is reducing appropriations to provide funding only for due diligence work such as a feasibility assessment study/preliminary design report, survey and planning, environmental impact statement preparation and other due diligence costs.
Ige is reducing the $29.6 million appropriation for Agricultural Resource Management to $6.6 million. He also is reducing the $3.8 million appropriation in fiscal year 2023 for the Agribusiness Development and Research irrigation management to $3 million.
These reductions will leave $3.5 million for due diligence for the projects.
Ige also reduced funding to the Hawaiʻi Emergency Management Agency for the First Responder Technology Campus from $51.6 million to $16.6 million.
“Planning and permitting for the campus is still in its initial stages,” the governor said in the press release. “A master plan must be prepared to subdivide the campus to make possible the participation and development of the facilities by non-state agencies. It is highly unlikely these steps can be completed before funding for the project lapses in June 2024.”
It is also unclear why development funding for the campus is being provided to HIEMA since the agency is a potential occupant of the campus, instead of the agency responsible for developing the campus.
Ige is also line-item vetoing the $17.8 million in general obligation bonds appropriated to the Hawaiʻi Technology Development Corp. for the plans, design and land acquisition for the campus and Cybersecurity Data Center.
“The additional land acquisition for the campus is premature,” he said in the press release. “According to the draft environmental impact statement prepared for the campus, development is planned to take place in six phases over the next 15 years.
The initial phase, programed for fiscal years 2023-25, is estimated to cost from $100 million-$150 million, covering construction of a roadway into the existing campus, drainage and utilities in preparation for the full campus buildout in subsequent phases. The total estimated cost of all six phases is between $315 million and $470 million.
The estimate only includes costs for roadway development, infrastructure and common area facilities. It does not include costs to construct facilities for specific agency occupants. It is also unclear why the Hawaiʻi Technology Development Corp. is acquiring a parcel of land classified as preservation lands.