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The Board of Regents on Thursday approved a budget request for the next two years that Gov. David Ige will consider in December.

In the Fiscal Biennium 2021-2023 budget request, the University of Hawai‘i is asking the state for the continuance of $4 million for the athletics programs at UH Mānoa and UH Hilo, and to transfer positions in the campus system. 

The loss of tax revenues due to the COVID-19 pandemic has caused the state to fall into an economic crisis. Gov. David Ige is expected to release the state’s budget plan in December. 

The budget will then be forwarded to the Legislature, which will take it up when its next session begins in January.

Since UH receives about half of its money from the state’s general funds, which has been decimated by pandemic, it is predicting a major financial shortfall.

The Council on Revenues predicted that the state is expected to bring in 11% less in tax revenue compared to last year, which means Hawaiʻi could have $2.3 billion less to spend.

Kalbert Young, vice president of budget and finance, estimated that it would be between $75 million and $100 million less that UH could receive from the state.

“I’m optimistic that the management team at UH, the faculty and administrative staff are doing the right things now to prepare the university for however long the pandemic will run,” Young said in an interview. “I’m pretty confident that UH will come out of it better than just surviving.”

“But that being said, it definitely will not be painless,” Young added. “I think the longer that the pandemic impacts run, the more pain we’re going to have to absorb.”

The BOR also approved the UH operating budget for the current fiscal year, which began in July.

The governor has instructed all state departments, including UH, to set aside 10% of what the state gave them.

UH projected that tuition revenues will decrease by 5% because of the declining enrollment from students from the mainland and international students. 

While the budget cuts were expected along with the declining revenues that UH gets from tuition and the state, it is unclear how much it would impact the university. 

UH had released a draft of the program cuts in September, but the Associated Students of the University of Hawai‘i at Mānoa announced in a meeting on Wednesday that almost all of the programs were taken off the chopping block. 

More than 200 UH executives and managers took pay cuts that started on Nov. 1, and there was a hiring freeze established in April.

However, it’s still not enough to close the budget gap.

UH is expected to lose $65 million in revenues, and faces a budget shortfall at the end of the fiscal year of about $14 million.

“The big assumption is that there will be little-to-no reduction in general funds,” Young said in an email. “I am not as optimistic that the state will be able to provide all the general funds that have been appropriated.” 

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Senior Staff Writer

Cassie Ordonio double majors in Journalism and Pacific Islands Studies. The former Bay Area native is a transfer student from City College of San Francisco where she previously served as Editor in Chief at The Guardsman.