Lawmakers determine University of Hawaii cuts not necessary

HILO — State Sen. Donna Mercado Kim announced Friday that she has completed a review of 121 positions at the University of Hawaii that had been considered for elimination and, based on new information provided by the university, has determined that widespread cuts will not be necessary.

“Our initial review focused on positions that had neither teaching responsibilities nor grant support,” Kim said in a news release. “Given that the university’s own policy states that instruction is the university’s highest priority, that was a natural place to start.


“However, we subsequently learned that 99 percent of the positions that UH initially gave us were positions that included retirements, terminations, leaves without pay, and sabbaticals. In one case, the individual had died. Fifty percent were temporary positions that were 100 percent federal/grant funded. Thus, all these positions were restored.”

UH administrators said the proposed systemwide cuts would total $30 million over two years and permanently trim 121 faculty positions that have already been filled at the flagship UH-Manoa campus, as well as another 100 vacant positions throughout the 10-campus system, the Associated Press reported earlier this week.

While the proposed cuts throughout the UH system would have largely reduce unfilled positions at UH-Hilo, a proposal to trim $300,000 from the school’s athletics budget concerned university leaders.

Kim, however, said Friday the decision was made to include athletic funding in a measure separate from the current budget bill.

In its own news release, the University of Hawaii said it “is gratified that the devastating Senate budget proposal to cut 121 faculty positions and associated $13 million was not adopted in the Conference budget approved this morning. Such a cut would have had devastating effect on the high-quality and challenging education our faculty provide to UH students, as well as the research and service they provide for the people of Hawaii.”


UH said in the statement that university officials still need to review the full details of the conference budget to understand how it addresses the other significant cuts proposed in the Senate budget as well as how the Board of Regents’ requests for new support were handled.

“Until the Legislature publishes the entire Conference budget worksheets the university must reserve comprehensive comment,” the news release states.

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