Gov. David Ige has released the first draft of Hawaii's $25.7 billion budget that covers the next two fiscal years.
Ige released the budget Monday, which is the deadline to submit the document to the Legislature.
Continue Reading Below
The budget includes $12.6 billion in spending in fiscal year 2016, which is a 4 percent increase over current spending levels, and $13.1 billion in spending in fiscal year 2017, which is an additional 8 percent increase.
The first draft is a baseline budget that was mostly compiled by former Gov. Neil Abercrombie's administration. Ige called the budget a starting point and said in his message to the Legislature that his administration will thoroughly vet and build on the proposals. Ige took office Dec. 1 and is still filling cabinet positions.
Health care and pension benefits for the state's current and former employees were among the highest proposed costs. The state plans to spend $87.4 million on health premiums for the Department of Education, University of Hawaii and other state programs in 2016, and that amount is expected to rise to $216.3 million in 2017. To pay for retirement benefits, the state plans to spend $65.5 million in 2016 and $99.8 million in 2017.
The budget includes capital improvement projects intended to address a backlog of health and safety issues statewide, paid from general obligation bonds. Among the proposals are $100 million in bonds each year to maintain and improve Hawaii's public school facilities. The University of Hawaii is slated for $36 million in 2016 and $27.4 million in 2017 to fix health, safety and code deficiencies statewide. The state's struggling public hospital system is lined up for $12 million each year for capital improvement projects.