Legislature on track to violate state’s legal spending limit

The following is a news release that was issued May 2, 2023, by the Grassroot Institute of Hawaii.

The proposed budget is $668 million more than the governor requested and doesn’t even include almost 30 other measures that require funding

HONOLULU, May 2, 2023 >> The state Legislature’s proposed budget for the coming fiscal year is on track to exceed the state’s constitutionally imposed expenditure ceiling by $1.06 billion — or more than 10% — according to the legislative body’s conference draft bills that were released over the weekend and yesterday.

Created by the 1978 Hawaii State Constitutional Convention, the spending cap allows state spending to grow by the three-year average of Hawaii’s personal income growth.

Keli‘i Akina, president and CEO of the Grassroot Institute of Hawaii, said, “The state’s expenditure ceiling was designed as a brake on runaway spending. But lawmakers appear to be ignoring it, which bodes poorly for the public’s trust.”

He noted that in 1978, the convention’s Committee on Taxation and Finance clearly stated that the spending cap proposal was based on “the genuine concern of taxpayers that the costs of government should not consume an increasing proportion of their income.”

And that concern, he added, “is just as valid today as it was 45 years ago.”

As of today, the Legislature’s proposed budget for fiscal 2024, as presented in HB 300, would fund the state’s executive branch using about $11.29 billion from the state’s general fund — an increase of $668 million from the budget proposed by Gov. Josh Green.

In addition, almost 30 other bills would also appropriate funding, including for the Office of Hawaiian Affairs and various other agencies and initiatives.

According to the state Constitution, the state’s spending cap can be exceeded only if both the House and Senate approve the spending bills by a two-thirds majority and state their reasons for violating the limit.

Thus, embedded in every spending bill being sent to the governor for his signature is a statement that, “The appropriations made in this Act are necessary to serve the public interest, and the appropriations made in this Act meet the needs addressed by this Act.”

And considering Hawaii is a virtual one-party state, it is highly likely that all or most of these bills will meet that two-thirds threshold and be approved this week.

State legislators plan to vote on the state budget bill, HB300, on Thursday.

For more information or to arrange an interview with Keli‘i Akina, please contact Mark Coleman at 808-386-9047 or info@grassrootinstitute.org.

1] 2022 Hawaii Revised Statutes, Title 5. State Financial Administration, 37. Budget, 37-91 to 94 OLD REPEALED. §37-91 Definitions, accessed May 2, 2023.
2] As quoted by “Re: Requirement for Balanced Budget,” Hawaii Attorney General Legal Opinion 97-01, Jan. 13, 1997, p. 2. 

Subscribe to our free newsletter!

Get updates on what we're doing to make Hawaii affordable for everyone.
Want more?

Get content like this delivered straight to your inbox. We’ll also send updates on what we’re doing to make Hawaii affordable for everyone.

Recent Posts