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Hawaii state capitol

Kalbert Young

Kalbert Young, UH vice president for budget and finance and chief financial officer, shares his analysis of the 2018 legislative session.

The 2018 legislative session adjourned on May 3, with more than 200 bills being passed and moving on to the governor for final consideration. A fair number of these bills impacted the University of Hawaiʻi either directly or indirectly. I’ll highlight just a few of the significant measures to pass the legislature this year.

In 2017, the legislature appropriated funds for the Hawaiʻi Promise Program, which was implemented in fall 2017 as a “last dollar” scholarship program to provide for the unmet financial needs of qualified University of Hawaiʻi Community College resident students. As of today, approximately 1,500 students have benefited from the Hawaiʻi Promise Program. The Hawaiʻi State Legislature passed and approved HB 2501 CD1, which provides an additional appropriation of $700,000 for fiscal year 2019 to support this worthy cause.

The university had other funding requests for operations, programs and initiatives during the 2018 legislature. While some of these areas did receive funding support at the end of the legislative session, many were not funded and others that were funded were not initiated or originally requested by the university.

The supplemental budget bill (HB 1900 CD1) was the single most important measure at the legislature, because a lot of UH’s desired funding initiatives would have been provided via the budget appropriation bill. HB 1900 CD1 passed the legislature and has been transmitted to the governor for his consideration. The table below compares the UH items funded by the legislature vs. what was requested by the Board of Regents and the governor’s proposal when the legislature started in January.

Campus Description UH BOR Governor Legislature
CCs Hawaiʻi Promise Program $700,000 $700,000 $700,000
CCs Architects / Engineers for Facilities $273,600    
West Oʻahu Health and Safety / Utilities / Equipment $781,000 $300,000 $501,000
Mānoa Facilities $4,038,848 $1,500,000  
CCs Additional Positions for Security $1,083,264    
Hilo DKICP-Janitorial and Groundskeeping $120,495 $120,495  
System Office of Strategic Planning and Development $500,000   $90,000
Mānoa Student Success Initiative-Veterans, Filipinos, Mental Health $575,000 $400,000 $300,000
CCs Apprentice Lecturer Costs $260,000 $260,000 $260,000
CCs Filipino Student Support $614,920 $350,000  
CCs Veterans Support $473,108 $473,108  
Mānoa Native Hawaiian Affairs Action Plan $700,000 $500,000  
CCs Native Hawaiian Student Support $1,729,908 $500,000  
Hilo Native Hawaiian Development $260,000 $200,000 $79,000
Hilo Student Workforce $200,000    
Mānoa Student Research and Innovation $535,000 $175,000  
Mānoa Graduate Student Initiative-Phase I $2,850,000 $621,397  
West Oʻahu Academic Affairs Restructure and Growth $680,000 $400,000  
West Oʻahu Student Affairs $446,364 $200,000  
Mānoa CTAHR positions     $960,000
Hilo Rat Lungworm Research at DKICP     $300,000
Hilo Hawaiʻi Ant Lab     $200,000
West Oʻahu Health Sciences Academy     $515,000
CCs Student Success Initiative     $750,000
CCs Architects and Project and Construction Managers     $364,800
CCs Online Learning     $565,372
System Online Learning     $685,000
Mānoa Grant in Aid-Hawaiʻi Institute of Pacific Agriculture*     $75,000
System Grant in Aid-Friends of Ka Leo Hawaiʻi Media*     $150,000
  Total $16,821,507 $6,700,000 $5,795,172

*HRS 42F-101 defines a Grant in Aid as “an award of state funds by the legislature, by an appropriation to a specified recipient, to support the activities of the recipient and permit the community to benefit from those activities.”

There were a few other bills that passed the legislature that will provide some operating funds for the University of Hawaiʻi. For example, there were appropriations of $150,000 for the Heʻeia National Estuarine Research Reserve and $500,000 for a cooperative study with the Department of Health on sewage contamination. Of note, is the funding for the Hawaiʻi Promise Program, whereas the legislature chose to fund the program for an additional $700,000, but did so outside of the budget appropriation bill so that conditions could be placed on the funding. Total Hawaiʻi Promise Program funding is now at approximately $2.5 million.

In general, I believe the university fared modestly given the amount of legislative attention in the budget. Much of the university’s original request was not funded, and although a sizeable portion of funding provided by the legislature was for areas that were not requested by UH, the funding support should provide some level of progress and improvements.

For capital improvement projects (CIP) and construction of facilities, HB 1900 CD1 provided a modest funding level for the University of Hawaiʻi System to address capital improvement projects and deferred maintenance. This has been consistently a major area of concern for the University. The legislature appropriated a total of $109.9 million in general obligation bonds for the following projects:

Campus Project Title UH BOR Governor Legislature
Mānoa Renew, Improve, Modernize (RIM) projects $139,500,000    
Mānoa Sinclair Library Renovation $41,000,000 $20,000,000 $700,000
Mānoa Keller Hall Renovations, design phase $1,500,000    
Mānoa Athletics (UOH900)     $11,100,000
Mānoa Cancer Center Annex – Early Phase Clinical Trials Program (UOH900)     $200,000
Hilo Renew, Improve, Modernize projects $27,900,000    
Hilo Puako Marine Educational Center, design phase $1,000,000    
Hilo Hale ʻAlahonua Air Conditioning     $3,000,000
Hilo Phase II and Phase III of Haleʻōlelo Complex for College of Hawaiian Language     $500,000
West Oʻahu Renew, Improve, Modernize projects $3,000,000    
West Oʻahu Relocation of Dental Hygiene Program from UH Mānoa to UH West Oʻahu $10,000,000    
West Oʻahu Campus Center Extension     $5,000,000
CCs Capital Renewal and Deferred Maintenance $25,000,000 $12,000,000 $10,000,000
CCs Minor Capital Improvement Projects $10,000,000 $10,000,000 $10,000,000
CCs Multi-Agency Facility – site of current Wahiawa Public Library     $3,000,000
CCs Hawaiʻi CC – Campus Development, design phase $2,000,000 $2,000,000  
CCs Leeward CC – Repave Fascia and Replace Walkways Campuswide $8,800,000    
CCs Maui – Expansion of Culinary Arts Program to Lahaina     $400,000
CCs Hawaiʻi CC – Pālamanui Outdoor Learning Area and Dining Area Improvements     $1,173,000
System Renew, Improve, Modernize (RIM) Projects   $76,000,000 $64,900,000
  Total $269,700,000 $120,000,000 $109,973,000


As you will notice, significant portions of CIP funding are for items not requested as part of the original budget, and funding for desired project areas is much less than originally requested. However, like the operating budget, the level of legislative funding support will help to make some small progress toward holding the line on building and facilities decline.

Along with the CIP budget, the legislature passed HB 2005 SD2, which authorizes the university to issue as much as $100,000,000 in revenue bonds. This authority could allow UH to finance additional construction and CIP projects, however, the university does not currently have any plans to issue these bonds any time soon since bonds require sufficient revenues to pay future debt service.

The University of Hawaiʻi is thankful and appreciative to the legislature for the support they provided for these capital needs across the UH System. A lot of work still needs to be done and additional funding will still need to be appropriated in order to reduce UH’s deferred maintenance backlog.

The governor has until July 10, 2018, to either sign, veto or allow bills to become law without his signature.

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