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Can you balance the State’s budget? A new tool made by the Senate Minority allows you to attempt to balance the State’s budget. Joe Kent and Paul Harleman, Senate Minority Budget Director, discussed the state budget on the Grassroot Institute with Dr. Keli’i Akina, a radio show on KAOI 1110AM Maui and KKNE 940AM Oahu.

“Currently, if we’re looking at the house budget that was recently passed, as well as the governor’s budget which was introduced at the beginning of the year, there’s an annual deficit of about $407 million currently,” began Paul, “We have a surplus from the previous years, I believe it’s close to $800 million still.  On an annual basis we are spending more than we are taking in, and we’re using that $800 million surplus to fund the annual deficit.”

In an attempt to improve transparency, the Hawaii Senate Minority Research Office released the online tool with data on Hawaii’s current budget. However, finding the information isn’t simple. “The budget worksheets are about 700 pages. It’s really a system that was first introduced in the 1970’s, so it hasn’t been changed. It’s very difficult to go through a document of 600 – 700 pages just to find basic questions… it’s very challenging to navigate,” Paul said,  “We’re just trying to make it easier, because voters don’t have the time to spend hours [digging] through these very large budget worksheets.”

The website itself is very user friendly, and allows one to balance the budget. “Basically there’s four options. You can cut taxes, increase taxes, cut spending, or increase spending,” explained Paul, “My recommendation is just to maintain last year’s budget and not to increase it. If we were just to do that, then the actual budget deficit already shrinks from $407 million to $200 million.”

Listen to the full interview here: