Budget and procurement updates
The Council on Revenues came out with its latest quarterly estimate for the 2011 fiscal year late last week. The 3 percent revenue growth it foresaw for the state of Hawaii less than 3 months ago in December has been reduced to .5 percent.
The political instability in the Middle East continues to impact the price of oil, which translates into higher costs for fuel, a major factor in the health of our number one industry—tourism. Adding to this serious international situation is the tragic, heart-breaking disaster which hit Japan just days ago and causing damage in Hawaii, after the Council of Revenues meeting. These are certainly extremely concerning factors when we consider the immediate future economic health of the state and the university system. Continued below
University and campus news
- Support for Japan
- Becoming a model indigenous university
- TMT project moves forward
- Mountain West contract signed
- Manoa is great for bicycling
- Professor selected as Leopold Fellow
- Pharmacy residency program underway
- Scholarships established at UHWO, Leeward
- Grant to support garden project
- 2011 New Century Scholar
- Paliku Arts Festival slated
Budget and procurement update, continued
Prior to the Council on Revenues updated projections, the State House Finance Committee passed its initial draft of the budget, which will now go over to the Senate for its consideration. This House draft proposes a $16 million reduction to the university from the governor’s executive budget proposal, as part of a total $120 million reduction for all executive agencies. It is still too early to tell how this will develop. The over-used term is that “everything is on the table” in terms of revenue-generating and budget-reducing proposals at the Legislature. The truth is we simply do not know what will emerge at the end of the Legislative session.
We are diligently communicating with our legislative contacts, and we do have many, many friends in the Legislature who understand and champion education as the critical investment in the future that it is. Our leadership team is meeting with them daily, multiple times a day, shoring up our existing support and mining any and all options.
I wish I had a more optimistic picture for you. But we are doing all we can to be responsible stewards of our younger generations’ future, and we continue to believe and to remind all we are in contact with that higher education is an absolutely critical investment in our future to which we simply cannot abrogate responsibility. That said, I believe we will get through this tough situation. We welcome any and all support from our constituents at the university and throughout the community, to help us survive these very challenging times.
The university is working hard to address the budget shortfall, particularly through implementing various administrative efficiencies. As of last month, UH payroll information is now reviewed and sent electronically to the State of Hawaii Department of Accounting and General Services for processing.
This streamlining project eliminated the manual preparation of handwritten payroll schedules at UH, the manual transmission of these paper schedules to DAGS, and a manual data entry process at DAGS. The improvements will reduce transcription errors and improve security as well.
UH is the first major state employer to implement electronic payroll submission to DAGS, which hopes to move other state agencies online as well. This project was completed through collaboration among Information Technology Services, our Payroll Office, the UH System Office of Human Resources, the DAGS Central Payroll group and the DAGS Information and Communication Services Division.
UH System News
TMT project moves forward
The State Board of Land and Natural Resources voted unanimously to approve our application for a conservation district use permit to build and operate the Thirty Meter Telescope on Mauna Kea.
The permit is a major milestone for the TMT project. We were able to achieve that milestone thanks to an enormous amount of work by the university, the TMT group and the community of Hawaii Island. The university is keenly aware of its obligation to be a responsible and thoughtful caretaker of the land that has been entrusted to our care on Mauna Kea. The mountain is a gift to all the people of Hawaii and we recognize our responsibility and kuleana to it. We deeply appreciate all of the work that has been done by the community to ensure that the TMT is done in the right way for the benefit of the people of Hawaii.
We are thrilled and excited that the TMT is moving forward. It will contribute greatly to our economy and the need for quality, environmentally friendly jobs on a neighbor island. We believe the decision validates the careful and thorough planning process we’ve gone through, and is a recognition that science and indigenous culture do not have to be diametrically opposing forces. They can unite in the pursuit of knowledge.
The land board has also granted contested case petitions submitted by opponents of the TMT project. We anticipate that a hearing officer will be appointed soon and that the contested case process will be completed over the coming months. The board’s decision to grant the permit was made after reviewing a very detailed, well-analyzed staff report and hearing several hours of public testimony, so we feel good about the process that has been followed, but there are additional steps that will need to be completed successfully before construction of the telescope can begin.