Last night, House Finance and Senate Ways and Means conferees agreed to support Agriculture inspectors statewide by funding the positions through the state general fund rather than a special fund, freeing up more money to fight invasive species.
Currently, 20 inspector positions at airports and harbors on Oahu, Kauai, Maui and Hawaii Island, are funded through the Pest Inspection, Quarantine and Eradication Special Fund. Monies in the fund are normally used for invasive species programs, but have been tapped in recent years to fund the agriculture inspectors due to the downturn in the economy and the state’s limited resources.
“The struggle to fund agriculture inspectors in order to stop invasive species from entering the state has been on-going for several years,” said Rep. Clift Tsuji (District 3 – South Hilo, Panaewa, Puna, Keaau, Kurtistown), Chair of the House Committee on Agriculture. “I’m very pleased that my colleagues on the money committees recognized the urgency to support agriculture inspection and fight invasive species in a reliable and responsible manner. This is good news for the protection of Hawaii’s precious natural resources.”
Additionally, the conferees agreed to fund through general funds nine agriculture inspector positions at Kahului Airport on Maui that are currently funded through the Department of Transportation using Federal Aviation Administration monies that will be discontinued at the end of this fiscal year.
The budget bill, HB2012, must clear the conference committee, pass a final floor vote in both House and Senate, and if passed, will be sent to the Governor for signature.
- Threat of feral invasion from cuts to Hawaii’s import inspections (abc.net.au)
- Inspector Cuts Endanger Hawaii Farms, Environment (abcnews.go.com)
- Inspector cuts endanger Hawaii farms, environment (heraldonline.com)