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Kalbert Young, UH vice president for budget and finance and chief financial officer, shares his analysis of the 2020 legislative session.

The 2020 legislative session has been interrupted due to COVID-19 in Hawaiʻi. The Legislature has been on an extended recess since Monday, March 16, due to the COVID-19 pandemic. This has been an unprecedented time in the State of Hawaiʻi and after close to a two-month recess, the legislative session reconvened on May 11, to address budgetary issues due to the pandemic, and then recessed again on May 21. The 2020 Legislature anticipates reconvening sometime in June to take up other items.

We will all need to confront an inevitable and serious reduction in tax revenues, as we also face new expenditure requirements to address the unanticipated consequences of the pandemic. We all need to think about how to position Hawaiʻi for economic and social recovery when the worst of the pandemic passes. The University of Hawaiʻi has already begun planning and anticipating its elevated role in the near future with different services to meet the new levels of demand.

Kalbert Young

Both the operating and capital improvement projects (CIP) supplemental budgets were passed by the Legislature and are pending governor’s review and approval. Prior to the start of the 2020 legislative session, the University of Hawaiʻi Board of Regents had submitted a supplemental operating budget request of $28.1 million in general funds. However, due to the decrease in tax revenue in the State of Hawaiʻi, and the uncertainty of Hawaiʻi’s economic recovery, reductions across all state departments occurred, including UH.

None of the board’s requests were approved by the Legislature. While there were no dollar amount reductions to UH’s general fund appropriations, many full-time equivalent (FTE) position counts were removed by the Legislature. These positions were vacant, but these reductions will inhibit UH’s ability to hire and recruit which may impact services to our students and community. In total, nearly 758 FTE counts were reduced, which is equivalent to more than 11 percent of all General Funded FTEs available to UH.

The following table shows the supplemental operating budget comparison between the board, governor and the Legislature:
Campus Description
Board Governor Legislature
FTE $$$ FTE $$$ FTE (P) FTE (T) $$$
Mānoa UHealthy: Establish MD cohort on Maui 8.00 $1,400,000          
Mānoa UHealthy: Medical Education and Residency Support Program on Maui     8.00 $1,400,000      
Mānoa Athletics: Convert positions to General Fund 43.00            
Mānoa Mental Health: 5 Licensed Psychologists 5.00 $750,000          
Hilo Security: Complete the transition of security force to being completely comprised of civil service employees 8.00 $324,624          
Hilo New Program: BS in Aeronautical Sciences program 4.00 $370,000          
Hilo Student Success: Case Manager, Retention Specialist, and Financial Aid Outreach Specialist 3.00 $180,000          
Hilo Student Success: Employ students as Learning Assistants, Peer Tutors, and Peer Advisors   $200,000          
Hilo Mental Health: 1 Licensed Psychologist 1.00 $150,000          
Hilo Educational and Cultural Programming at Hale Pohaku or other suitable venue, Maunakea Visitor Information Station, and ʻImiloa 8.00 $1,211,120 8.00 $1,211,120      
West Oʻahu Student Success: Admin Assistant for Early College transition and funds for Student Help Payroll 1.00 $347,000          
West Oʻahu Compliance, Food Sustainability, IT Specialist (Distance Ed), Travel/Hospitality Asst Prof 4.00 $272,000          
West Oʻahu New Programs: Creative Media & Facilities Management 4.00 $252,000 4.00 $252,000      
West Oʻahu 5 Security Officer, 1 Janitor, 1 Garden Manager, 1 Lab Manager 8.00 $368,000 3.00 $200,000      
West Oʻahu Mental Health: 1 Licensed Psychologist 1.00 $150,000          
CCs New Facilities: Kapiʻolani CC Culinary Institute of the Pacific Phase I. 1 Custodian, 1 General Laborer, utilities and facility maintenance costs 2.00 $465,780 2.00 $465,780      
CCs New Facilities: Leeward CC Waianae Ed Center. 1 Custodian, 1 Security Officer, utilities and facility maintenance costs 2.00 $101,096 1.00 $50,000      
CCs New Facilities: Hawaiʻi CC Pālamanui Ed Center. 1 Custodian, 1 Building Maintenance Worker, 2 Security Officers, utilities and various maintenance costs. 4.00 $491,620 2.00 $391,620      
CCs Security: Positions and funds to provide 24/7 coverage at each campus. 32.00 $1,223,040 32.00 $1,223,040      
CCs Student Success: Hiring of Student Tutors and Mentors   $500,000          
CCs Mental Health: 12 Licensed Psychologists 12.00 $1,600,000 6.00 $800,000      
System Hawaiʻi Promise Expansion to 4 year Institutions   $17,700,000   $19,000,000      
System Office of Strategic Development & Partnerships – Project Coordinator 1.00 $100,000          
Mānoa Reduce all vacant GF positions         (346.49) (8.00)  
JABSOM Reduce all vacant GF positions         (22.79)    
Hilo Reduce all vacant GF positions         (63.00)    
West Oʻahu Reduce all vacant GF positions         (21.20)    
CCs Reduce all vacant GF positions         (219.00) (13.50)  
Aquaria Reduce all vacant GF positions         (4.00)    
System Reduce all vacant GF positions         (60.00)    
Total   151.00 $28,156,280 66.00 $24,993,560 (736.48) (21.50)  


On the CIP budget, the UH board approved request was for $236.8 million for FY21 to address capital renewal, progress on deferred maintenance, and funding for projects to modernize each of the campuses within UH. The university provided the Legislature with shovel-ready projects that would stimulate the state’s economy.

The following table shows the CIP budget comparison between the board, governor and the Legislature:
Campus Project Title Board Governor Legislature
Mānoa Mānoa Mini Master Plan Phase 2 $66,000,000    
Mānoa Renew, Improve, and Modernize $60,500,000    
Mānoa Kuykendall Hall $4,000,000    
Mānoa Holmes Hall $1,000,000    
Mānoa Central Admin Facility with Parking $4,000,000    
Aquaria Repairs and Improvements at Waikīkī Aquarium     $600,000
Hilo Renew, Improve, and Modernize $6,000,000    
West Oʻahu Planning Projects $500,000    
West Oʻahu Campus Center Phase 2 $35,000,000    
CCs Capital Renewal and Deferred Maintenance $10,500,000 $10,500,000  
CCs Minor CIP   $15,000,000 $13,248,000
CCs Hononlulu CC Science Building $46,000,000    
CCs Windward CC Agripharmatech Bioprocessing Facility $3,000,000    
System Renew, Improve and Modernize   $61,000,000 ($1,752,000)
System Renovations to enhance culture and education at Hale Pohaku or other suitable location that does not include a telescope $300,000 $300,000  
System UH Mānoa Athletics     $4,500,000
Total   $236,800,000 $86,800,000 $16,596,000


At this time, we do not know how this legislative session calendar and interrupted schedule will affect other pending legislation.

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