The Hawaii State Legislature will contemplate the governor’s proposal to spend more on roads, bridges, schools and harbors when it reconvenes on Jan. 17.
“This budget aligns our values and programs with those actions we know will make a difference,” said Gov. David Ige.
Ige wants to increase spending on building projects by 215% in the second year of the biennium budget by issuing bonds totaling $1.5 billion in fiscal year 2019, according to his supplemental budget for 2017-19.
The 2017-19 executive budget was front loaded with the bulk of appropriations in fiscal year 2018, according to the budget. There are no general obligation bond fund requests for fiscal year 2018, thus the net request for GO bond funds totals $620 million in fiscal year 2019, resulting in the jump.
“The state’s improved GO bond ratings and lower interest rates make it a favorable time to invest in the state’s infrastructure,” Ige said. “These capital projects have broad economic impact, supporting about 14,000 jobs of which 5,520 will be in the construction industry.”
The governor's changes to the budget would also add $85.5 million in operating costs for a total supplemental budget of $14.4 billion in fiscal year 2019.
Hawaii can boast that it is one of 16 states with enough cash reserves to weather a recession, Ige said referring to a comment in a Moody’s Investors Service report.
The state has $310.7 million in its Emergency and Budget Reserve Fund. It is rated Aa1 by Moody's Investors Service and AA-plus by S&P Global Ratings. Both ratings come with stable outlooks.
Projects funded with the bond money include $358.7 million for airport and transportation projects, $150 million to improve public school facilities and $120 million for University of Hawaii building projects.
Ige’s budget also designates $100 million to four different programs to increase and improve affordable housing and $16.5 million to combat homelessness.
“Our efforts are paying off. Since I’ve been in office, 5,300 units have been completed, 40% of them affordable,” Ige said. “There are another 1,400 under construction and 4,500 units in the planning stages. Let’s build on our momentum.”