HONOLULU (KHON2) — The State’s final version of the budget bill appropriates billions to address key areas like education, medical services and affordable housing.
While it still needs approval from the full Legislature before it reaches the Governor’s desk, Lawmakers said the $21.7 Billion budget for 2024 and 2025 addresses concerns that matter most to the people of Hawaii.
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“Our Finance Ways and Means chair has done a great job at disseminating a budget that I think it well received on the House and Senate to help our communities,” said Sen. Lynn DeCoite (D) who represents Molokai and
From health care to education, caring for the environment and ensuring Hawaii’s prepared in the wake of a disaster, the budget approved by the Senate and House finance committees gets to the heart of resident’s concerns.
In a statement, the Ways and Means Committee Chair Sen. Donovan Dela Cruz said: “We are confident that this bill will provide opportunities for Hawaiʻi residents not just to survive, but to thrive in Hawaiʻi.”
One of the key areas of concern for many local residents the high cost of living. According to Rep. Kyle Yamashita, chair of the House Finance committee, funds are being set aside for affordable housing.
According to Yamashita, the budget “focuses on healing and investing in the future.”
One example of this is by “investing over $300 million to increase our inventory of affordable housing for the middle class,” he said.
Yamashita said they’re also tackling early education by allocating $38.8 million to the Preschool Open Doors program that will get matched by federal funds, allowing us to expand public and private preschool and early learning opportunities to three-year-olds.
“Schools have always been our challenge, funding on schools,” said Yamashita.
So. they’re putting $170 million aside for teacher housing, a benefit supporters said will help retain and recruit teachers.
Another area the budget focuses on is healthcare, with millions going to emergency services statewide, including $1.6 million to get Molokai a much needed second ambulance there. Something DeCoite said they’ve been fighting for years.
“It’s been a tough struggle for Molokai, for many of our residents” DeCoite explained. “If our ambulance doesn’t get to them in time, then we push to do a full air [evacuation], which then inundates the neighbor island hospitals. The $1.6 [million] should cover the crew as well as the ambulance for fiscal year 24, 25.”
Click here to see the full budget bill
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The budget will go back to chamber floor for a final vote from the full Legislature before it’s sent to the Governor for his approval.