Hawaii state capitol

Kalbert Young, UH vice president for budget and finance and chief financial officer, shares his analysis of the 2019 legislative session.

The 2019 legislative session adjourned on May 2, with hundreds of bills being passed by the Legislature and moving on to the governor for consideration. A number of these bills impacted the University of Hawaiʻi either directly or indirectly. There were times this legislative session that I would characterize as challenging. However, in general, I believe the university fared decently well considering the budget and level of funding support provided for areas within the university.

I will highlight just a few of the significant measures that passed the Legislature this session and cover the legislative appropriations in the university budget.

Hawaiʻi Promise program

Hawaiʻi Promise is a “last dollar” scholarship program to provide for the unmet financial needs of qualified UH Community College resident students. Approximately 1,500 students have benefited from the program. For 2019, the university had requested the Legislature make permanent $700,000 of what is already “base funding” of $1.8 million for Hawaiʻi Promise. The Legislature had appropriated the $700,000 last year to the program, but that funding was not recurring. The university had also requested that Hawaiʻi Promise be funded for the four-year campuses as well, for $19 million. This legislative session, the Legislature did approve reinstatement of the $700,000 to continue the program at the UH Community Colleges. However, the Legislature did not provide any funding to make the program available to the four-year campuses. The university intends to return next session and again request expanding this important initiative to the four-year campuses.

Operating budget

The biennium budget bill is always the single most important measure at the Legislature because it is a significant source of funding for the university. Usually, most of UH’s desired funding initiatives would have been provided via the annual budget appropriation bill. As I have mentioned in earlier summaries, this year the budget process employed by the Legislature created difficulties in being able to identify funding during the course of the session. Additionally, issues arose late in the session around the UH budget and established faculty positions that created some drama.

The table below compares what was requested for funding by the Board of Regents against what has been funded by the Legislature to comprise the UH budget.
Description BOR FY20 BOR FY21 CD1 FY20 CD1 FY21
Hawaiʻi Promise Program $19,700,000 $19,700,000    
Raise Graduate Assistant Stipend (Mānoa) $2,198,360 $2,242,327    
Student Mentors and Tutors (CCs) $1,004,400 $1,004,400 $500,000 $500,000
Custodial and Maintenance (Hilo) $228,576 $228,576 $143,784 $143,784
Wayfinding Education Program (Hilo) $375,000 $300,000    
Learning Assistants and Peer Mentoring (Mānoa) $956,600 $1,408,876    
Student Employment (Hilo) $122,000 $231,000    
Student Employment (West Oʻahu) $300,000 $300,000    
Security Staff (Hilo) $311,240 $311,240    
HINET for SNAP Recipients (CCs) $520,000 $520,000    
Distance Education (West Oʻahu) $1,000,000 $1,000,000    
Convert 7.5 Positions from Tuition to General Funds (West O‘ahu)     $395,121 $395,121
Reduce (6) Positions and Funds for NHERC (Hilo)     $(246,047) $(249,309)
Add (9) Positions and Funds for NHERC (CCs)     $634,171 $634,171
5 positions-Teacher Education Program (Leeward CC)     $418,720 $418,720
Other Current Expenses (Aquaria)     $25,000 $25,000
Innovation Center (Maui)     $250,000 $250,000
Child Care Site Director (Windward CC)     $65,000 $65,000
CTAHR-Ornamental Breeding and Clean Export Practices (Mānoa)     $400,000  
Apiary Program (Kauaʻi CC)     $60,000 $60,000
Reduce Funds for Performance Funding (System)     $(2,000,000)  
Reduce (1) position and Funds from Mānoa     $(91,584) $(91,584)
Total $26,716,176 $27,246,419 $554,165 $2,150,903

Other legislative measures

There were other university funding requests for programs, proposed initiatives or service enhancements considered by the Legislature. While most of these requests will be left to next year’s Legislature to consider, a number of them did get funded.

I cannot provide too many details in the space here, but some of the items approved include:
Bill No. Description FY20 FY21
HB 560* Honolulu CC Energy System Technology Training $130,000  
HB 654 Cancer Center Research $350,000  
HB 843 Hawaiʻi CC Applied Technical Education $60,000 $60,000
HB 1455 Maui College International Office $37,650 $37,650
HB 1547 Athletics (Mānoa and Hilo) $4,000,000 $4,000,000
SB 50 HINET (Community Colleges) $455,000 $455,000
SB 316 Hawaiʻi Promise Program (Community Colleges) $700,000 $700,000
SB 989 Academy for Creative Media $1,200,000  
SB 1404** JABSOM Loan Repayment Program $150,000  
SB 1418 Pamantasan Council $195,000 $195,000
Total   $7,277,650 $5,447,650

*Appropriation shall be expended by the Department of Business, Economic Development and Tourism
**Appropriation shall be expended by the Department of Health in coordination with the UH Mānoa John A. Burns School of Medicine

There were two bills passed by the Legislature that are important but are non-fiscal measures. HB 398 CD1 reduces the number of Board of Regents’ members from 15 to 11 by reducing the number of Oʻahu regents from seven (7) to five (5) and eliminates the two (2) “at-large” regent positions.

HB 1157 CD1 exempts students in post-secondary education programs at community colleges from having to submit immunization records if they attend classes exclusively online or through distance learning, under certain conditions.

Capital budget

Funding for capital improvement projects (CIP) and construction of facilities is provided for in HB 1259 CD1. This funding is highly significant because it provides the majority of funding for the UH System to address major facility improvements and address deferred maintenance. This has consistently been a major area of concern for the university over the past decade.

The Legislature appropriated a total of $282.2 million in general obligation bonds to address the following projects:
Description BOR FY20 BOR FY21 CD1 FY20 CD1 FY21
Renew, Improve and Modernize (Systemwide) $157,000,000 $133,000,000 $80,000,000 $50,000,000
Capital Renewal and Deferred Maintenance (CCs) $25,000,000 $25,000,000 $25,000,000 $14,500,000
Science Building (Hononlulu CC) $43,500,000      
Pharmacy Lab Improvements (Hilo) $3,000,000   $3,000,000  
Renovate Sinclair Library to become Student Success Center (Mānoa) $41,000,000   $41,000,000  
Snyder Hall Replacement (Mānoa)   $55,000,000    
Renew, Improve and Modernize (Hilo)     $5,000,000 $8,000,000
Minor CIP (CCs) $10,000,000 $10,000,000 $14,000,000 $10,000,000
Kuykendall Hall (Mānoa) $2,000,000      
Development and Infrastructure (West Oʻahu) $7,000,000 $8,000,000    
General Education Building I (West Oʻahu) $1,000,000      
Planning Projects (West Oʻahu) $500,000 $500,000    
Manono Campus Development (Hawaiʻi CC) $2,000,000 $50,000,000    
Holmes Hall (Mānoa) $2,000,000 $35,000,000    
Keller Hall/Physical Science (Mānoa) $1,000,000      
Agripharmatech Bioprocessing Facility (Windward CC)   $3,000,000    
Mānoa Mini Master Plan Phase 2 (Mānoa)       $6,000,000
CTAHR-Kula Ag Station (Mānoa)     $500,000  
Aeronautical Science Program (Hilo)     $321,000  
Hangar 111 (Honolulu CC)     $11,650,000  
PV Systems Buyout (CCs) (Reimbursable GO)     $4,000,000  
Mānoa Athletics Master Plan (Systemwide)     $750,000  
Clarence T.C. Ching Complex Field (Systemwide)     $2,000,000  
Cancer Center Early Phase Clinical Trials Facility (Systemwide)     $6,500,000  
Total $295,000,000 $319,500,000 $193,721,000 $88,500,000


In addition to the projects listed above, the university was appropriated two revenue bond funded projects: $38.0 million for parking structure renovations and $4.8 million in each year of the biennium for land acquisition.

As you will notice, significant portions of CIP funding are for items not requested by UH as part of its original budget request. Overall, funding for requested project areas are much less than originally requested. However, like the operating budget, the level of legislative funding support is still positive and will help to make some progress in improving university facilities.

In this area, I would like to highlight the approval of $41 million to renovate Sinclair Library to become a Student Success Center. Administration is particularly glad that this project has been funded. When completed, Sinclair will have been converted to a safe and comfortable environment for students to study, congregate and collaborate between classes and after hours. Given Sinclair Library’s proximity to Campus Center and the Warrior Recreation Center, this will create a modern flexible area for student success, collaboration and group learning.

UH is extremely thankful and appreciative to the governor and the Legislature for the support they have provided for operations and capital across the UH System. Sustained funding will always be a major issue for UH programs and facilities, but I believe this budget represents a big help in a number of areas.

The governor has until July 9, 2019, to sign, veto or allow bills to become law without his signature.