Hawaii Senate Committee OKs Using Hurricane Relief Fund to End Furloughs

By | February 23, 2010

Hawaii’s Senate Ways and Means Committee has advanced a bill that would use money from the state’s Hurricane Relief Fund to end school furlough days.

Senate Bill 2124notes that reductions and restrictions to the Department of Education’s operating budget of more than $49 million for 2009-2010 and more than $226 million for the 2010-2011 fiscal year, have resulted in the loss of 17 instructional days for 10-month non-charter public school students, and 21 instructional days for 12-month, noncharter public school students in the two school years. Using some of the money from the emergency Hurricane Fund could help alleviate the state budget, and help restore instructional days at public schools.

Following Hurricane Iniki that struck the islands in 1992, the state implemented the Hurricane Relief Fund as a state-based emergency fund. However, payments into the fund were discontinued in 2001, and the fund is estimated to be worth approximately $180 million today.

“The legislature finds that an appropriation of Hawaii hurricane relief funds is necessary to maintain an essential level of programs and resources to provide Hawaii students with a quality education,” the bill text states.

State Insurance Commissioner J.P. Schmidt is opposed to the proposal, saying the Hurricane Relief Fund should be kept intact to be used for its original purpose.

Source: Hawaii Legislature

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