Thursday, May 7, 2009

SB 884 passes, but campaign fund safe.

After several delays, Senate Bill 884, which raids several special funds to help with the state's billion-dollar-plus projected deficit, has passed. Among the hardest-hit funds: the Hawaii Tobacco Settlement Fund, which loses $20 million to the general fund; the Housing Finance Revolving fund, also $20 million, and the Wireless Enhanced 911 Fund, out $16 million. A bit of good news: the legislature backed off a proposal to raid the Campaign Elections Fund after getting a letter from the the State Attorney General that said such a raid would probably be unconstitutional. So it looks as if the pilot project for publicly funded council elections on this island will probably move forward as scheduled.

The current version of the bill on display at the legislature's Web site, which I assume is the final version, apparently does not find that there is a specific amount of "excess funds" that can be be taken from the HI 5 beverage container deposit fund. But it does give the legislature the authority to make that determination in the future, and takes that authority away from the State Auditor. So we may see another attempt to raid the HI 5 fund in the next legislative session.