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Hawaii governor submits two-year budget request

HONOLULU (AP) -- Hawaii Gov. Neil Abercrombie has submitted his two-year budget to the state Legislature for consideration.

The governor is requesting $11.7 billion in total funds for fiscal year 2014, and $12.1 billion for fiscal year 2015.

That includes general funds of $6.1 billion for fiscal year 2014 and $6.3 billion for fiscal year 2015.

The request for fiscal year 2014 is an increase of 3.9 percent over the $11.3 billion total budget for fiscal 2013.

Abercrombie said the budget represents an investment in information technology, early education and health initiatives to address the islands' aging population. He also said for the first time the budget seriously addresses the state's long-term liabilities associated with employee and retiree health benefits. The budget also would restore the 5 percent reduction in state employee wages that was implemented because of the recession.

In announcing his budget Monday, Abercrombie said that it represents a balanced approach to stimulate the state economy while making Hawaii more technologically competitive.

"We are also proposing significant investments in early education and health initiatives, as well as building an improved support system for our kupuna," the governor said in a statement.

The bigger 2013-2015 budget reflects increases in non-discretionary spending, including those in health care costs, retirement benefits, pensions and debt service. More than two-thirds of the budget increase over the previous budget has to do with these non-discretionary costs, which are required expenditures.

"Our budget allows our state to make clear and deliberate steps in addressing unfunded liabilities that otherwise would continue to threaten our future fiscal solvency," said Kalbert Young, director of the state Department of Budget and Finance.

The administration also is requesting $1.7 billion for capital improvement projects for fiscal year 2014 and $906 million for FY 2015. Preference would be given to priority projects such as improving public infrastructure and creating more local jobs, the governor said.

The governor planned to talk about the budget at a news conference on Monday, but was interrupted by news of the death of longtime U.S. Sen. Daniel Inouye.