About State Budgeting

Budget System

Pursuant to the Executive Budget Act of 1970, the Planning, Programming and Budgeting System of the State was adopted. The purpose of this act is to integrate the planning, programming and budgeting processes to improve decisions on the allocation of resources. The act established a comprehensive system for State programs and their related costs over a time frame of six years. The operating and capital improvement requirements are evaluated together to insure compatibility and mutual support. Systematic evaluations and analyses are conducted to ascertain the attainment of program objectives and alternative means or methods of improving current State services. The act provides that the Director of Finance and the Governor may modify or withhold planned expenditures if such expenditures would be in excess of authorized levels of service or in the event that State receipts and surpluses would be insufficient to meet authorized expenditure levels.

Further information can be found on this link to Chapter 37, HRS, Budget – https://www.capitol.hawaii.gov/hrscurrent/Vol01_Ch0001-0042F/HRS0037/HRS_0037-.htm.

Legislative Process

The Legislature convenes annually in regular session on the third Wednesday in January. Regular sessions are limited to a period of 60 days, and special sessions are limited to a period of 30 days. Any session may be extended by no more than 15 days. At least 30 days before the Legislature convenes in regular session in an odd numbered year, the Governor shall submit to the Legislature the Governor’s proposed State budget of the executive branch for the ensuing fiscal biennium. The budgets of the judicial branch, the legislative branch, and the Office of Hawaiian Affairs are submitted by their respective leaders to the Legislature for its consideration. In such regular session, no appropriation bill, except bills recommended by the Governor for immediate passage, or to cover the expenses of the Legislature, shall be passed on final reading until the bill authorizing the operating expenditures for the executive branch for the ensuing fiscal biennium, to be known as the general appropriations bill, shall have been transmitted to the Governor.

In each regular session in an even numbered year, the Governor may submit to the Legislature a bill to amend any appropriation for operating expenditures of the current fiscal biennium, to be known as the supplemental appropriations bill. In such session to which the Governor submits to the Legislature a supplemental appropriations bill, no other appropriations bill, except bills recommended by the Governor for immediate passage, or to cover the expenses of the Legislature, shall be passed on final reading until the supplemental appropriations bill shall have been transmitted to the Governor.

To become law, a bill must pass three readings in each house on separate days. Each bill passed by the Legislature shall be certified by the presiding officers and clerks of both houses and thereupon be presented to the Governor. If the Governor approves and signs the bill, it becomes law. If the Governor does not approve a bill, the Governor may return it, with the Governor’s objections, to the Legislature. Except for items appropriated to be expended by the judicial and legislative branches, the Governor may veto any specific item or items in any bill that appropriates money for specific purposes by striking out or reducing the same; but the Governor shall veto other bills only as a whole.

The Governor has ten days to consider bills presented to the Governor ten or more days before the adjournment of the Legislature sine die, and if any such bill is neither signed nor returned by the Governor within that time, it shall become law in like manner as if the Governor had signed it.

The Governor has forty-five days, after the adjournment of the Legislature sine die, to consider bills presented to the Governor less than ten days before such adjournment, or presented after adjournment, and any such bill shall become law on the forty-fifth day unless the Governor by proclamation shall have given ten days’ notice to the Legislature that the Governor plans to return such bill with the Governor’s objections on that day. The Legislature may convene on or before the forty-fifth day in special session, without call, for the sole purpose of acting upon any such bill returned by the Governor. In case the Legislature shall fail to so convene, such bill shall not become law. Any such bill may be amended to meet the Governor’s objections and, if so amended and passed, only one reading being required in each house for such passage, it shall be presented again to the Governor, but shall become law only if the Governor shall sign it within ten days after presentation.

Expenditure Control

The Constitution provides that no public money shall be expended except as appropriated by law. It also requires that provision for the control of the rate of expenditures of appropriated State moneys, and for the reduction of such expenditures under prescribed conditions, shall be made by law and that General Fund expenditures for any fiscal year shall not exceed the State’s current General Fund revenues and unencumbered cash balances, except when the Governor publicly declares the public health, safety or welfare is threatened, as provided by law.

Expenditure Ceiling. The Constitution provides that, notwithstanding any other provision to the contrary, the Legislature shall establish a General Fund expenditure ceiling which shall limit the rate of growth of General Fund appropriations, excluding federal funds received by the General Fund, to the estimated rate of growth of the State’s economy as provided by law and that no appropriations in excess of such ceiling shall be authorized during any legislative session unless the Legislature shall, by a two-thirds vote of the members to which each house of the Legislature is entitled, set forth the dollar amount and the rate by which the ceiling will be exceeded and the reasons therefore. Pursuant to such Constitutional provision, Part V of Chapter 37, HRS, provides, in general, that appropriations from the General Fund for each year of the biennium or each supplementary budget fiscal year shall not exceed the expenditure ceiling for that fiscal year. The expenditure ceiling is determined by adjusting the immediate prior fiscal year expenditure ceiling by the applicable “state growth.” State growth means the estimated growth of the State’s economy and is established by averaging the annual percentage change in total State personal income for the three calendar years immediately preceding the fiscal year for which appropriations from the General Fund are to be made. The Governor is required to submit to the Legislature a plan of proposed aggregate appropriations for the State which includes the executive budget, proposed grants to private entities, any specific appropriation measures to be proposed by the executive branch and estimates of the aggregate proposed appropriations of the judicial and legislative branches of government. In any year in which this plan of proposed General Fund appropriations exceeds the estimated expenditure ceiling, the Governor must declare the dollar amount, the rate by which the expenditure ceiling would be exceeded and the reasons for proposing appropriations in excess of the ceiling amount.

Operating Expenditures. Maximum limits for operating expenditures are established for each fiscal year by legislative appropriations. Pursuant to Part II, Chapter 37, HRS, moneys can be withheld by the Governor or the Director of Finance to ensure the solvency of each fund. Expenditure plans consisting of quarterly requirements of all State programs are prepared at the beginning of each fiscal year by the respective departments of State government. After the expenditure plans are evaluated, allotments are made to each department as prescribed by HRS Chapter 37. Allotment transfers between different appropriation items within individual departments can be made after approval is obtained from the Governor, or if delegated, the Director of Finance. Unencumbered allotment balances at the end of each quarter shall revert to the related appropriation account, except for the Department of Education and the UH. Requests to amend allotments must be approved by the Director of Finance. Although the State has a biennial budget, appropriations are made for individual fiscal years and may not be expended interchangeably, except for 5% of appropriations to the Department of Education, which by statutory authority may be retained up to one year into the next fiscal biennium.

Capital Improvement Expenditures. Annual capital improvement implementation plans are also prepared to control and monitor allotments and expenditures. Prior to the initiation of a project, it is reviewed for compliance with legislative intent and other economic considerations, and as to its justification. The Governor must approve the release of funds before any action can be taken. Change orders during construction must be substantiated and approved by the expending agency. The need for additional capital improvement funds for each project must be approved by the Governor and must be funded from available balances of other capital improvement project appropriations.

Revenue Projections

The Constitution requires that there be established by law a Council on Revenues (the “Council”) to prepare revenue estimates of the State government and to report such estimates to the Governor and the Legislature. The revenue estimates serve as the basis for the Governor’s budget preparation and the Legislature’s appropriation of funds and enactment of revenue measures. If the Council’s latest revenue estimates are not used by the Governor or the Legislature for budget preparation or appropriations, respectively, then the party not using the latest estimates must publicly state the reasons for using a differing revenue estimate. Act 278, SLH 1980, provided for the establishment of such a council consisting of seven members, with three members appointed by the Governor and two members each appointed by the President of the Senate and the Speaker of the House. The Council regularly reports its estimates and revisions each June 1, September 10, January 10, and March 15. The Council also revises its estimates when it determines that such revisions are necessary or upon request of the Governor or the Legislature. The Council’s estimates are used by the Department of Budget and Finance in formulating the State Multi-Year Program and Financial Plan, the Executive Budget, and the Executive Supplemental Budget for submission to the Legislature.

Further information can be found on this link to the Council on Revenues’ webpage – https://tax.hawaii.gov/useful/a9_1cor/.