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U. Hawaii Anticipates ‘Devastating Impact’ by Senate Budget Cuts

The University of Hawaii is opposing a move by the state Senate to cut at least $30 million in funding from its budget, citing potentially devastating impacts on various programs and its faculty.

If passed, school administrators are predicting that hundreds of faculty and staff layoffs would be necessary and that various programs, including the expansion of the use of Open Education Resources (OERs) and a sports program for the entire State of Hawaii, would be halted.

The proposed budget, which was passed on to the State House of Representatives last Friday, seeks to cut $30 million total. This includes $10 million during the current fiscal year, and $19.5 during the 2020-2021 fiscal year.

University leadership members believe that the cuts would eliminate 121 faculty positions and force the institution to layoff hundreds of current staff employees.

“There would be long-term if not a permanent negative impact on our ability to address Hawaiʻi’s challenges and opportunities as well as our ongoing efforts to diversify and grow the economy,” leadership members said in a statement.

“If enacted, the Senate budget would cripple important initiatives such as developing public-private partnerships in land development that are intended to reduce the university’s dependence on public dollars over the long term.”

Senate Higher Education Committee Chairwoman Donna Mercado Kim, while justifying the proposal, said the cuts would streamline university operations by trimming unwanted expenses and improve the quality of the university overall.

“We noticed that a number of positions actually had ‘zero’ for number of courses taught, and ‘zero’ for number of awards of grants brought in,” Kim told Hawaii News Now.

The budget proposal is currently set for conference committee, where the House of Representatives and Senate will negotiate differences and finalize all bills for a final vote before being sent to Gov. David Ige for approval.

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