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The Honolulu Advertiser

Posted at 7:11 p.m., Tuesday, April 9, 2002

Senate won't dip into hurricane fund

By Lynda Arakawa
Advertiser Capitol Bureau

The Senate today rejected a proposal to use money from the Hurricane Relief Fund, leaving the Legislature with a $55 million hole in the budget.

Without the Hurricane Relief Fund money, the Legislature would likely need to impose deeper cuts in the budget, said Senate Ways and Means Chairman Brian Taniguchi, D-11th (McCully, Mo'ili'ili, Manoa).

"Currently the financial plan that I proposed is out of balance," he said. "We're in the negative."

The Senate recommitted House Bill 2654 back to the Ways and Means Committee, shelving the bill for the session. But lawmakers will still have another opportunity to revisit the issue in conference committee because a measure that would take $100 million from the fund is still alive in the House.

That measure appropriates more than $80 million for popular education and human services programs. House Bill 2654 would have used the $55 million taken from the fund for education programs, including $20 million for public schools and $2 million for the University of Hawai'i.

Lawmakers have less than three weeks left to finalize the budget before adjourning the session.