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Posted: Friday, March 28th, 2014 2:48 PM HST

Hawaii Senate committee advances $12.1B budget

By Associated Press

HONOLULU (AP) Lawmakers in a key state Senate committee have advanced their version of the state's $12.1 billion budget for fiscal year 2015.

The Senate Ways and Means committee had to make some tough choices Thursday because the state's revenue projections were lowered two weeks ago.

Committee Chairman David Ige says the committee reduced expenses for this year and next year's budgets by about $192 million.

Ige says the committee was focused on providing funding for public schools and higher education. They also preserved safety net programs in Hawaii's Department of Human Services.

The committee approved the budget unanimously, but Republican Sen. Sam Slom voted with reservations. He says the state should be more conservative about spending.

Ige says the state will finish this fiscal year and the next with a surplus.

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