Legislative Update

FEDERAL LEGISLATION

In February, Congress passed a bi-partisan budget that avoided another federal government shutdown and a few days later, the President introduced his budget for the fiscal year 2019 (that starts on October 1, 2018).

A president's budget is always a proposal to Congress and has no legal standing.  In the past, many budgets have been considered dead on arrival with Congress ignoring them as they write their appropriations bills. This budget, written before the February 9th bipartisan deal, could be considered "dead before arrival" because its domestic spending numbers are so far below what Congress plans to actually spend.

Below are some of the key provisions that affect local children and their families.

Historic Wins for Kids in the Bi-Partisan Congressional Budget

Reauthorization of CHIP (Children’s Health Insurance Program) for TEN years, instead of six, securing health insurance for nearly 26,000 keiki.

An additional $5.8 billion to the Child Care and Development Block Grant over two years ($2.9 billion per year), could mean an additional $10 million of Hawaii.

MIECHV/Home Visiting (wrap-around services for at-risk babies) reauthorized for 5 years.

The President’s Budget

When it comes to kids, the President’s budget includes many cuts to the departments of Health and Human Services and Education.

Department of Health and Human Services $1.39 trillion cut out of Medicaid

  • Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP), commonly known as food stamps, $17.2 billion cut in 2019 — and more than $213 billion over the next ten years.  Instead, families would receive a Harvest Box, a box of non-perishable foods such as shelf-stable milk, ready-to-eat cereals, pasta, peanut butter, beans, and canned foods.
  • Elimination of the Social Services Block Grant (SSBG), which provides $1.7 billion in flexible funding to states each year for services such as childcare, day programs for seniors and people with disabilities, services for homeless individuals and families, and others.
  • $21 billion cut to the Temporary Assistance for Needy Families (TANF) program.

 

SNAP alone provides food security to 98,829 households and 194,263 individuals throughout Hawaii - nearly 15% of the population.

Department of Education stands to see the elimination of 17 programs, $7.1 billion

  • Programs that provide before- and after-school programs, smaller class sizes, and professional development for educators
  • Plus $1.1 billion would be redirected from public education programs to school choice programs, designed to improve private and semi-private education systems (this could be good for charter schools)
  • Elimination of the Public Service Loan Forgiveness Program, impacting Hawaii’s ability to attract and retain new teachers
  • New restrictions to work-study programs that allow students from low-income families to afford continuing education.

 

LOCAL LEGISLATION

The Hawaii State Legislature has passed the cross-over period, and of the 26 bills included in the 2018 Hawaii Children's Policy Agenda, 15 are still active.  Those bills include:

Economic Security & Equity

  • Establish a family leave insurance program in Hawaii to provide 16 weeks of partial wage replacement, based on a sliding scale.
  • Allow child support payments to pass through custodial parents receiving TANF

 

Strengthening Hawaii’s Families

Establish visitation centers at correctional facilities to improve visitation by children of incarcerated persons

Health and Wellness

  • Increase funding for early intervention services for children with special needs
  • Require licensure for school psychologists
  • Prohibit sales of tobacco within 500 to 1000 feet of schools and public playgrounds
  • Require restaurants to replace sugary drinks with water or milk in kids’ meals as the default option
  • Codify the protections of the Affordable Care Act at the state level

 

Child Safety and Welfare

  • Establish Erin’s Law Task Force to make recommendations for a child sexual abuse prevention education program in the state
  • Establish a Foster Youth Bill of Rights to help keep kids safe in their foster homes

 

Education

  • Establish a new dedicated, sustainable funding source to adequately support our public schools above the current funding level
  • Expand funding for public pre-k
  • Appropriate funds for charter school facilities
  • Codify the protections of the federal Patsy Mink Equal Opportunity in Education Act (Title IX) to prohibit discrimination in agencies or institutions receiving state funds
  • Prohibit property insurers from refusing to issue, renew, or cancel the homeowner’s insurance policy of an FCC child care provider seeking or maintaining liability insurance coverage as required by DHS to operate the child care facility

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