$4 million in grants lapsed at fiscal year’s end

Nearly $4 million in public funds allocated by the Hawai‘i Legislature was not released by Gov. Linda Lingle’s office by the end of the fiscal year and has lapsed, according to spokesman Russell Pang.

Seventy-one operating grants-in-aid were originally approved as part of 2007’s Act 213, which was passed on June 27 of last year and allocated $10.1 million of state money to public programs.

But funding approved by the Legislature does not always find its way to the intended recipients. The governor’s administration reviews each grant and determines, on a case-by-case basis, which

organizations will be receiving their checks.

State tax revenue projections have waned considerably in the year since the bill was passed, and less money in state coffers means fewer social programs.

“We have to look at the fiscal realities,” Pang said in a June phone interview with The Garden Island.

Grants not released by the end of the fiscal year — June 30 — lapsed.

Pang said yesterday that 43 of the grants were funded, at least in part, while 28 went completely unfunded. In all, just over $6.1 million was released.

According to Pang, just two of those never-released grants-in-aid, totaling $540,000, were to go to Kaua‘i-based groups. Both grants in question were set to fund Kaua‘i Economic Opportunity, Inc.

Chief Executive Officer MaBel Ferreiro-Fujiuchi said yesterday that $500,000 of that was to provide meals for homebound elderly on weekends and holidays, expanding the organization’s “meals on wheels” program from its current Monday-through-Friday format.

The other $40,000 was to purchase a vehicle for an employment aid program designed to transport the underprivileged to work and job interviews.

Ferreiro-Fujiuchi said that she was “ecstatic” when the grants were originally included by the legislation, but was not surprised by the end result.

“In the back of my gray matter, I know it’s not done until the check is signed,” she said. “It’s never a guarantee.”

Ferreiro-Fujiuchi said that she was “not moaning and groaning” and was very grateful for the estimated 14 grants-in-aid and other assistance from the state government that Kaua‘i Economic Opportunity, Inc. had received over the previous three years.

“We will survive and we will try again.”

• Michael Levine, staff writer, can be reached at 245-3681 (ext. 252) or mlevine@kauaipubco.com

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