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Hawaii Supplemental Budget Supports Energy Initiatives

May 21, 2008

Legislative approval of several measures to support the state’s energy initiatives were accompanied with lawmakers’ rejection of Gov. Linda Lingle’s proposals to fund Science, Technology, Engineering, and Mathematics (STEM) programs and expand TBED initiatives at the conclusion of the 2008 legislative session earlier this month.
 
Lawmakers allocated $8.7 million ($2.8 million above the governor’s recommendation) in fiscal year 2008-09 for the Hawaii Renewable Hydrogen Program, a key component of the governor’s Energy for Tomorrow package. The legislation stipulates that the Hawaii Strategic Development Corporation submit a report before the 2009 legislative session convenes on the measures of effectiveness of the program, details of expenditures, and a master plan for the renewable hydrogen program detailing planned expenditures.
 
The legislature also adopted Gov. Lingle’s proposal to expedite permitting of renewable energy facilities and created an energy facilitator position to assist with the permitting process in support the Hawaii Clean Energy Initiative.
 
The Hawaii High Technology Development Corporation will receive $100,000, half of the governor’s recommendation, to expand the Small Business Innovation Research and Small Business Technology Transfer assistance programs. An additional $100,000 to provide Hawaii firms with training workshops and one-on-one grant proposal assistance was not included in the final budget.
 
The approved FY 2008-09 supplemental budget does not include funding of $2 million for a second year of the Hawaii Excellence through Science and Technology Academy Program and Robotics Programs within the Department of Business, Economic Development and Tourism. Despite the setbacks, the governor’s administration will continue to partner with private sector and federal organizations to fund the STEM programs established last legislative session, according to a press release issued by governor’s office (see the May 14, 2008 issue of the Digest).
 
Lawmakers did not fund the governor’s proposal to appropriate $2 million to the University of Hawaii to establish endowed chairs in STEM and Energy. Additionally, lawmakers rejected HB 3073, authorizing the Employees Retirement System to invest $100 million in one or more venture capital funds that support innovative Hawaii companies. The proposal to create a new state-owned technology park, HB 3358, was stalled in committee at the close of the session. Gov. Lingle has until July 8 to act on the budget bills.

Hawaiienergy, state tbed