Showing posts with label debt. Show all posts
Showing posts with label debt. Show all posts

Monday, January 13, 2020

Hawaii Legislature gears up for opening day, secret cameras irk Maui council, Princeville Resort closing for renovations, more news from all the Hawaiian Islands

copyright 2020 All Hawaii New all rights reserved
Hawaii Capitol ©2020 All Hawaii News
‘Big ideas’ finished at Legislature, critics say. While previous generations of Democrats were determined to pursue dramatic goals such as employer- funded health care or a temporary disability insurance system, a more cautious cadre of lawmakers seems to be aiming lower today, according to the critics. Star-Advertiser.

Legislature 2020: Making Hawaii Livable Again. State lawmakers will consider raising the minimum wage, paid leave programs and ways to keep residents from leaving the islands while grappling with climate change. Civil Beat.

Hawaii looks to boost construction to offset industry slowdown. Construction work in Hawaii is likely to slow next year, but state lawmakers seem inclined to go along with Gov. David Ige’s plan to budget extra money to boost state construction spending and give a lift to the industry. Star-Advertiser.

Hawaiʻi’s Future Liabilities are Expected to Cost $88 Billion. Hawai‘i is in a deep financial pit. Projects to mitigate climate change, improve infrastructure and meet public employee pension and retiree health care obligations are expected to cost the state and four county governments over $88 billion over the next 30 years, according to a report called “Troubled Waters: Charting a New Fiscal Course for Hawaii,” produced for the Hawai‘i Executive Conference. Hawaii Business Magazine.

30 years later, it’s the last session for Rep. Cynthia Thielen. At the age of 86, state Rep. Cynthia Thielen has just begun her 30th — and final — consecutive year representing Kailua and Kaneohe as one of the few Republicans in the state Legislature. Star-Advertiser.

Mandatory Report On Hawaii Trash Disposal Hasn’t Been Filed In 4 Years. The state health department hasn’t been updating the Legislature on recycling programs, landfill diversion efforts or imported fuel reliance as required. Civil Beat.

Hawaii Foodbank says hunger is a chronic problem in Hawaii. One in eight people in the islands regularly do not have enough food. KITV4.


Space Force unit coming to Hawaii Air National Guard. The Hawaii Air National Guard, picked to have one of four offensive space control squadrons nationally in the Air Guard, expects to start selecting candidates in April. Star-Advertiser.

The flash flood watch issued for the state ahead of a stormy weekend has been extended through to the early start of the work week. The National Weather service extended the watch until Monday evening at 6 p.m. Hawaii News Now.

One lettuce head at a time, farming program rooted at women’s prison changes lives. The farm program is called Learning to Grow. It’s run in partnership with the Lani-Kailua Outdoor Circle. The relationship started in 1999. Hawaii News Now.

Restriction on aquarium fishing being sidestepped, conservation group says. A coalition of conservation groups led by Earthjustice said the state has been shirking its duties in cracking down on the illegal collection of aquarium fish from Hawaii ocean waters. Star-Advertiser.

UH researcher documents impact of stainless-steel hooks on sharks. A newly published eight-year tiger shark study has found a significant number of sharks with stainless-steel fishing hooks lodged in their jaws. Star-Advertiser.

UH professor’s research shows marine life impacted long after being cut from fishing lines. A study shows how marine life is impacted after being cut from fishing lines. KHON2.


Oahu Is Overhauling How It Counts The Homeless. Administrators of Oahu’s annual homeless count have struggled with inaccuracy and undercounting. Civil Beat.

Facing backlash, Land Board scuttles parking plan for Ala Wai Boat Harbor. The state Land Board on Friday shot down a controversial plan to eliminate 125 free parking stalls at the Ala Wai Small Boat Harbor. Hawaii News Now.

Kakaako Waterfront Park upgrades set to begin at a cost of $450K. The parking lot at the Kakaako Waterfront Park will soon be temporarily closing for upgrades. Hawaii News Now.

Oahu office vacancy rate down to 9.9% in 2019. Renters of office space on Oahu no longer have the upper hand against landlords after a decade of having the dominant position. Star-Advertiser.

Hawaii Island

‘Health-care collapse’ Kim’s top legislative priority. Legislation tackling health-care costs, homelessness and cesspools are among six priorities identified by Mayor Harry Kim as the four county mayors head to Honolulu Wednesday to address legislative money committees. West Hawaii Today.

Removal of observatory on schedule. The decommissioning process for one of five Maunakea telescopes to be removed in the coming decade remains on schedule after the approval last month of several environmental assessments. Tribune-Herald.

Community speaks out against jail expansion. Officials from the state Departments of Public Safety and Accounting and General Services came to Hilo Thursday night to brief the public about the planned new housing module at Hawaii Community Correctional Center’s Punahele Street site. Tribune-Herald.

New multi-hazard mitigation plan to help lower risks on Big Island. Multiple public meetings planned around the Big Island this month will introduce the results of a risk assessment conducted for a required update of the county’s multi-hazard mitigation plan. Tribune-Herald.


Covert cameras secretly installed, briefly active inside Council Chambers. An $8,000 project to install covert security cameras in the Council Chambers of the county building in order to monitor an active shooter or hostage situation was kept secret from most council members and the public, county officials said. Maui News.

Report: Health center failed requirements, denied access to DOH. Molokai Health Center not under direction of full-time physician. Maui News.

Maili residents sue to block affordable housing project. Some neighbors of the largely state-financed project called Hale Makana O Maili have sued the developer in hopes of stopping construction on the two-story apartment complex they consider out of place and not rightly permitted. Star-Advertiser.


Program aims to spark EV charging stations. The Electric Vehicle Charging Station incentives program will supply rebates for the installation of shared-use EV charging stations, and is available to businesses, residences and institutions. Garden Island.

Closing for renovations. The Princeville Resort will shut down completely on May 1 “for many months” as it undergoes a major renovation, according to reservations staff members who were asked Sunday to explain why the hotel’s website was no longer accepting bookings for July. Garden Island.

Wednesday, February 28, 2018

Hee announces gubernatorial bid, medical aid in dying bill draws emotional testimony, Honolulu's homeless hygiene center, councilwoman wants business sponsorship of county facilities, more news from all the Hawaiian Islands

Clayton Hee Facebook photo
Longtime Office of Hawaiian Affairs trustee and former state Sen. Clayton Hee has announced he is running for governor, a relatively late entry into the Democratic primary that could dramatically alter the dynamics of the race. Star-Advertiser.

Former Sen. Clayton Hee Is Running For Governor. The longtime Hawaii lawmaker says Honolulu rail has been mismanaged and the money should be spent on other things. Civil Beat.

Former state senator Clayton Hee is joining the race to be Hawaii governor. Associated Press.

Clayton Hee seeks millennial, working class vote in race for governor. He enters the race as an underdog to incumbent Gov. David Ige and U.S. Rep. Colleen Hanabusa. Hawaii News Now.

Former Democratic state Senator Clayton Hee is the latest candidate to enter the race to be Hawaii's next governor. KITV.


Hawaii’s powerful public-sector unions are bracing for a U.S. Supreme Court decision that could weaken their collective bargaining efforts for tens of thousands of local workers and, ultimately, their sway on the islands’ political landscape. Civil Beat.


State lawmakers delay vote after hours of testimony on medically assisted death. More than 100 people testified over four hours for and against a bill that would allow terminally ill adults to obtain prescriptions for lethal doses of medication. Star-Advertiser.

Medical Aid In Dying Bill Generates An Emotional 5-Hour Hearing. House lawmakers deferred a vote on the measure until Wednesday. Civil Beat.

The House Health and Human Services and Judiciary Committees heard public testimony today on medical aid in dying legislation. Hawaii Public Radio.

After hours of passionate testimony, lawmakers delay vote on medical aid-in-dying bill. Hawaii News Now.

Hawaii's "Our Care Our Choice" bill would allow terminally ill patients to end their lives. KITV.

The issue of medically assisted suicide is once again on the table. Lawmakers listened to more than a hundred people testify for over five hours Tuesday morning. KHON2.

Gov. David Ige is supporting a bill that would allow terminally ill patients to end their own lives if they choose. Tribune-Herald.

Bill on medical aid in dying assessed. Star-Advertiser.


Hawaii May Switch To All-Mail Elections In 2020. A bill requiring the conversion in hopes of increasing voter turnout is headed to the House floor. Civil Beat.

Teachers who pay for classroom supplies could soon get tax deductions. A bill moving through the state legislature looks to ease the financial burden for teacher who pay for classroom supplies out of pocket. Hawaii News Now.

Senate Ways & Means Chair is blocking a bill to increase Hawaii's minimum wage. Hawaii News Now.

Consumer debt in Hawaii rose faster than the national average in 2017, increasing 4.1 percent compared with 3.5 percent across the country. Star-Advertiser.

Total consumer debt increased 4.1 percent for Hawaii consumers between the first and fourth quarter of 2017, higher than the 3.5 percent experienced at the national level, according to a report by the state Department of Business, Economic Development and Tourism. Pacific Business News.

The Hawaii Emergency Management Agency confirmed there will be no ballistic missile “attack warning” monthly siren test on Thursday — reversing this month’s practice and going against a recommendation from the state’s deputy adjutant general. Star-Advertiser.

Hawaiian Electric Cos. is now accepting competitive bids to add 300 megawatts of renewable energy production on three islands, after receiving approval from the state Public Utilities Commission last week. Star-Advertiser.

Pickups, SUVs and vans ruled the road in 2017 as Hawaii’s new-vehicle registrations increased for the seventh consecutive year. Star-Advertiser.


Ex-HPD Major Wants Separate Trial In Corruption Case. An attorney for Gordon Shiraishi says he shouldn’t be lumped in with the other defendants in the Kealoha case. Associated Press.

Waikiki stakeholders are growing increasingly concerned that serious criminal activity like murders, youth gangs and prostitution could mar the state’s top tourist district. Star-Advertiser.

The drive to require sprinkler systems in older residential high-rises in the wake of the deadly Marco Polo fire has come down to final City Council votes today that if approved would mean a break on taxes and fees as incentives to defraying what many owners consider unreasonable costs. Star-Advertiser.

Oahu’s first mobile homeless hygiene center hits the road. A nonprofit group has imported a 26-foot trailer equipped with bathrooms and toilets and is already towing it around Oahu to provide homeless people a place to get clean — and perhaps lead them off the streets. Star-Advertiser.

Injured man says 'booby trap' was set up to deter hikers from Haiku Stairs. Hawaii News Now.

Parents and students rattled by elementary school lockdown. Ahuimanu Elementary School was placed on lockdown for about an hour while police pursued an auto theft suspect, spotted running through the area, police said. Star-Advertiser.

Honolulu-based Oceanit only Hawaii recipient of federal research grant. Pacific Business News.

H Mart, a Korean grocery chain with several dozen stores in 12 Mainland states, is opening its first Hawaii location in Honolulu. Pacific Business News.

Colin Nishida, founder and chef at Side Street Inn, a beloved gathering place for many of Honolulu’s top chefs, died Sunday at age 61. Star-Advertiser.

Award winning Hawaii chef Colin Nishida, owner of the Side Street Inn, died on Sunday. He was 61 years old. Pacific Business News.

Hawaii Island

Commercial sponsorships of county facilities, programs considered as revenue source. Councilwoman Sue Lee Loy said her intent is to give the county another option as it likely faces tough decisions about making cuts or raising taxes going into the next budget cycle. Tribune-Herald.

The University of Hawaii selected three finalists to fill an open Hawaii County seat on the Board of Regents. Tribune-Herald.

Efforts to replace an 86-year-old bridge in Waimea are gearing up again. West Hawaii Today.


Maui Mayor Alan Arakawa gave his state of the county address on Tuesday. He said the county is financially stable, environmentally secure, and tourism is booming. KHON2.


Business is booming and consumer confidence is growing — including on Kauai. Garden Island.

A career of service to children and families has led Koloa resident Norma Doctor Sparks to throw in her bid for County Council. Garden Island.

While two landslides have been cleaned from Kuhio Highway on the North Shore and traffic is flowing again, the state is planning some safety measures in the area. Garden Island.

Tuesday, May 23, 2017

Hawaii has high consumer debt, Oahu airport fees to increase, Waimanalo landfill sparks debate, attorneys blamed for loss of lifeguard liability protection, counties react to king tides, more news from all the Hawaiian Islands

copyright 2017 All Hawaii News all rights reserved
Ala Moana Center © 2017 All Hawaii News
Hawaii’s high cost of living has given residents the dubious honor of having the second-highest consumer debt per person in the nation. Star-Advertiser.

Hawaii’s total consumer debt per capita increased from $51,810 in 2005 to over $67,000 in 2015, making it the second highest in the nation, according to a new report released by the Department of Business and Economic Development. Pacific Business News.

Hawaii residents are rising in the ranks of the indebted. Tribune-Herald.

County officials are blaming a group of prominent personal injury lawyers with strong ties to House leaders for thwarting an effort to extend most liability protection to lifeguards who might face lawsuits related to their jobs. Civil Beat.

It seems every few weeks yet another pundit predicts who Democrats might field for president in 2020. And in more and more cases, Hawaii’s Tulsi Gabbard makes the cut. Civil Beat.

New movie ‘The Islands’ looks for Native Hawaiian to play King Kamehameha. KHON2.

Parents challenge Hawaii's ukus, or head lice, policy in public schools. Hawaii News Now.

Scientists have issued a warning that Hawaii faces the threat of serious coastal flooding this week and in June because a rare convergence of rising sea levels and some of the highest tides of this year. Associated Press.


A final decision on the fate of the Waimanalo Gulch Sanitary Landfill likely will be delayed again due to possible procedural errors by the Honolulu Planning Commission. Star-Advertiser.

A representative from the state Department of Transportation told a room full of pilots and private aviation owners on Monday they are facing double-digit rent increases at Honolulu airports. Hawaii News Now.

The Honolulu Board of Water Supply is seeking final public input on options for the future of the precarious Haiku Stairs hiking trail, with all comments due at the end of the day Tuesday. Civil Beat.

The controversial Haiku Stairs have been the subject of debate for years. Now, the Board of Water Supply wants to know what you think the future of the "Stairway to Heaven" should be. Hawaii News Now.

From the wife of the richest man in South Korea to the husband of the CEO of Hawaii’s largest publicly traded company, the first closings of the luxury condominium units at Park Lane Ala Moana appear to be to a mixture of international and local buyers. Pacific Business News.

The city wants to hear from you about a proposal to build a multi-tower, mixed-use development across from Ala Moana Center. KHON2.

The latest homeless point-in-time count indicates an increase among veterans on Oʻahu. Hawaii Public Radio.

Last year, Honolulu EMS responded to about 86,000 emergencies. EMS officials say that number will likely climb up as Oahu's population grows. KITV.

State officials have launched a project to study the pueo in an effort to better understand the owl’s ecology on Oahu and to develop standardized surveying methods and management practices. Star-Advertiser.

Honolulu is among the top 10 destinations for this upcoming Memorial Day weekend. Pacific Business News.

Hawaii Island

A planned clean up of the Old Airport Park, set to coincide with the permanent relocation of the some 50-70 homeless individuals that reside there, has been a top priority of the administration since Mayor Harry Kim assumed office.  West Hawaii Today.

Homeless in North Hawaii: part one of a two-part series on how the homeless population in Waimea and throughout North Hawaii is growing. West Hawaii Today.

Hawaii County is hiring staff to fill empty positions at Kona Community Aquatic Center. West Hawaii Today.

Co-op launches effort to make Big Island pork industry viable. Tribune-Herald.


Maui officials react to king tide predictions. Maui News.


A swell will be arriving with the highest water levels of the summer late this week, and experts say tides could rise up to a foot above normal. On Kauai, that means low-lying areas like Hanalei and Kukuiula could be at risk for flooding, according to experts. Garden Island.

School bus contracts given. The Hawaii State Department of Education reached the final phase of its “Get on Board” initiative with new contracts on Kauai for the upcoming school year. Garden Island.

Friday, November 29, 2013

Hawaii lawmakers launch bipartisan Future Caucus, state offers preschool subsidies, Hawaii one of 13 'Turkey States,' Big Island seeks auditor, hunter reality show in DLNR crosshairs, Niihau residents want fishing limits, more news from all the Hawaiian Islands

children preschool kindergarten
Hawaii peschoolers, courtesy photo

Families should be able to apply in March for a slice of the $6 million in additional preschool subsidies state lawmakers approved earlier this year to help a set of children who will be too young to enter kindergarten next year. Star-Advertiser.

For the next school year, kindergartners must be at least 5 years old by July 31. Roughly 5,000 children who will mark their fifth birthdays later than that will have to wait a year before starting kindergarten. Star-Advertiser.

A group of Hawaii lawmakers announced Wednesday the creation of a bipartisan caucus composed of county and state elected officials under age 40 that will work to improve government transparency and political involvement for young people. Hawaii Future Caucus members said in a news conference at the state Capitol that they hope to work on "common-sense" legislation to make the political system more inviting and accessible for younger generations. Star-Advertiser.

A new report from Truth in Accounting’s State Data Lab names Hawaii one of 13 “Turkey States” because the state spent more money than it received and racked up more debt for future taxpayers. Hawaii Reporter.

The countdown for Hawaii’s first same-sex marriages is fast approaching. And state officials are gearing up for some changes. As HPR’s Molly Solomon reports, several couples are expected to wed on Monday -- the first day Hawaii’s marriage equality law goes into effect.


Honolulu Mayor Kirk Caldwell has approved a zone change for a project that would add 3,500 new houses to Koa Ridge in central Oahu. Civil Beat.

Hawaiian Electric Co. and two solar energy trade associations said Wednesday that they’re working together to define criteria that will allow customers who committed to installing solar photovoltaic systems prior to the September rules changes to interconnect their systems at no additional costs for safety upgrades. Pacific Business News.


Almost a year after county Legislative Auditor Colleen Schrandt resigned, the position has not yet been filled and it’s unclear how much, if any, auditing has actually gone on. West Hawaii Today.

A former executive assistant at Big Island Substance Abuse Council has filed suit against the substance abuse treatment organization alleging that she was wrongfully terminated for exposing financial misdeeds by BISAC’s former chief executive officer. Tribune-Herald.

Hawaii officials said Wednesday they are investigating whether any state regulations were broken during the filming of the History channel’s television show “American Jungle.” Associated Press.

Tjaye Forsythe, one of the producers of the reality show, 'American Jungle,' fired back at the Department of Land & Natural Resources on Facebook hours after the state announced a criminal investigation into the show which is shot on the Big Island. Hawaii News Now.

The History Channel’s new series "American Jungle," which depicts clans of Hawaii hunters battling it out as they hunt down pigs, goats and cows, is angering some top state officials, including Gov. Neil Abercrombie, who has threatened legal action. HuffPost Hawaii.


The Maui Planning Commission recommended approval Tuesday of a change in zoning from interim to public/quasi-public for Lumeria Maui, an educational retreat at the former Fred Baldwin Memorial Home in Makawao. Maui News.

The Maui County Office on Aging will host an open house for the launch of its EnhanceFitness program in South Maui. Star-Advertiser.


Will Kauai's Mayor Face Fallout After GMO, Pesticide Battles? Civil Beat.

Fishermen, primarily from Kauai, have been fishing in Niihau waters for decades, steadily depleting its residents of their primary food-source. The senate's Native Hawaiian caucus, along with the DLNR, intend to put a stop to that. Hawaii Independent.

A weather related anomaly that altered night harvesting operations for Kauai Coffee Company meant that neighboring communities heard a little more noise than usual. Garden Island.


There are currently 355 registered business owners on Molokai and most of them are home based, according to Jennifer Hawkins, small business specialist at the Kuha’o Business Center. These businesses are regulated by the Maui County Council under a bill currently up for revision. But when the council visited Molokai last week, asking for feedback on how to best tailor these standards and encourage small businesses, many Molokai business owners revealed they never knew the ordinance existed. Molokai Dispatch.

Friday, December 2, 2011

Abercrombie touts record bond sale, big changes for Alexander & Baldwin, PUC eases power sales, young state lawmaker recovering from stroke, more news from all the Hawaiian Islands

Hawaii projected debt service
The Abercrombie administration has completed a record bond sale of nearly $1.3 billion and restructured the state's debt as part of a long-term strategy to repair the financial damage left by the recession. Star-Advertiser.

It's being hailed as a monumental milestone for the state's economy -- Hawaii's largest-ever bond sale at historically low rates. KHON2.

Hawaii's announcement of $1.3 billion in new bond money will mean state projects can move forward and that will create jobs, Gov. Neil Abercrombie said Thursday. Civil Beat.

A year ago this month, just days after his swearing in, Gov. Neil Abercrombie's ambitious plans to have a "New Day" for Hawaii fell into a budget sinkhole. Civil Beat.

Abercromie Claims Lingle Left 'Financial Wreckage'; Former Governor Fights Back. Hawaii Reporter.

Gov. Neil Abercrombie and Budget and Finance Director Kalbert Young announced Thursday, December 1 that the State sold $1.28 billion of General Obligation Bonds. Hawaii Independent.

Hawaii will receive more than $14 million in federal grants to help it carry out President Barack Obama's health care overhaul. Associated Press.

The Public Utilities Commission has directed a further easing of the conditions by which alternative energy providers connect to the public utility electric grid throughout the state. Maui News.

Occupancy at Hawaii hotels rose by six percentage points last week, while average nightly room rates increased 4 percent from the same week last year, according to a report by Hospitality Advisors LLC and Smith Travel Research. Pacific Business News.

Shedding a business structure rooted in Hawaii's territorial past, Alexander & Baldwin Inc. announced Thursday it will become separate companies, one focused on real estate and agriculture and the other on transportation. Star-Advertiser.

State representative Chris Lee is back on the job and feeling like himself again after a stroke landed him in a hospital bed for four days in early November. Hawaii News Now.


The Transportation Security Administration said Thursday that it is investigating allegations that screeners at Honolulu International Airport have targeted Mexican travelers for extra screening. Associated Press.

One of the Transportation Security Administration officers accused of targeting Mexican travelers for extra screening at Honolulu International Airport has been promoted. KITV4.

After traveling thousands of miles across the West Pacific, the U.S.S. Chung Hoon came home to Pearl Harbor Thursday, bringing nearly 300 sailors back to loved ones. KITV4.

APEC – the Asia Pacific Economic Cooperation meeting on O’ahu ended more than 2 weeks ago … and some people are now asking, “Was APEC worth it?” The Hawai’i Society of Business Professionals hosted a panel discussion on that very topic. Hawaii Public Radio.


North Kona Councilman Angel Pilago said Thursday he won't seek another term, a move that ensures a new council majority when the governing body is sworn in next December. West Hawaii Today.

Hawaii County's multimillion-dollar Hilo recycling center should be privatized and expanded to allow mining of the adjacent landfill, says County Council Chairman Dominic Yagong. Tribune-Herald.

A provision allowing the state Division of Boating and Ocean Recreation to work on small boat harbors without permits couldn't find the votes Thursday at the Windward Planning Commission, forcing the deferral of a package of amendments to the Special Management Area. West Hawaii Today.


An audit of the state-owned Honokowai Kauhale affordable housing project on Maui found residents living in “substandard conditions” and “an atmosphere of intimidation and fear," according to state records released today. Hawaii Reporter.


A Hanalei man with a little more than four years left to go on his five-year probation sentence was in court Tuesday to request that the terms of his probation be modified for medical marijuana use. Garden Island.


American Safari Cruises has postponed its scheduled trips to Molokai today and Saturday after facing opposition from some residents who fear the tours could diminish fish stocks and wild game. Star-Advertiser.

Wednesday, February 18, 2009

Another day older and deeper in debt

It’s common, but usually not advisable, to want to max out your credit cards when times get tough.

The Hawaii Legislature is no exception, but the House Finance Committee is taking a cautious approach to bond debt at its hearing this afternoon.

A full slate of debt-related bills are being considered following last week’s grim financial news during a briefing by William Pound, executive director of the National Conference of State Legislatures.

The Legislature has no choice but to be cautious. The state constitution limits the amount of debt the state can undertake so that annual payments of principle and interest can’t exceed 18.5 percent of the average net General Fund revenues for the preceding three fiscal years.

The House, in HB 34, plans to set the stage to borrow $1.8 billion in general obligation bonds over the next three years – coincidentally the same amount economists have predicted the state will fall short in its General Fund budget over that period.

That amount will raise the state’s annual principle and interest payment just 10 percent, from $589.3 million to $648.7 million, between now and 2012, if the state borrows no more money in the meantime. Hawaii generally borrows using 20-year serial bonds, with payments on principle not kicking in until the fifth year.

Hawaii was ranked 11th in the nation in per capita debt in 2007 – with each man, woman and child in the state shouldering $4,665 in debt on the state’s behalf. That compares to $10,504 in Massachusetts, the highest state, and $674 in Tennessee, the lowest.

Hawaii ranks 13th in state debt as a percent of personal income, with debt representing 11.89 percent in 2007. Alaska, the highest state, has debt at 24.01 percent of personal income and Tennessee, the lowest state, has 2.02 percent.

Lawmakers hope borrowing more money for infrastructure will mean more federal stimulus money will come to Hawaii for needed projects.

Friday, January 9, 2009

State budget down $125 million

The Hawaii Council on Revenues today confirmed some lawmakers’ worst fears – there’s about $125 million less to spend than they thought for the budget year that's already halfway over.

The $125 million must be cut from the FY 2009 budget that ends June 30. Forecasters hope the economy will turn around in time for a 1-percent increase in the FY 2010 budget, but they aren't making any promises.

The projected 3-percent decrease in state revenues for the current FY09 budget is a drastic drop from the 0.5-percent decrease forecast just a few months ago. A percentage point equals about $35 million in revenues.

The cuts are going to be painful, hitting those who need help most. Education and entitlement programs such as those administered by the Department of Health and Department of Human Services account for a whopping 78.4 percent of the state operating budget.

Council on Revenues Chairman Paul Brewbaker will brief legislative money committees on the details of the budget downturn at 2 p.m. Tuesday in the Capitol auditorium. The Council reports its latest revenue forecast to the governor and the Legislature on June 1, Sept. 10, Jan. 10, and March 15 of each year.

Governor Linda Lingle wasn't surprised by the news.

"The Council on Revenues’ decision to lower projections is not unexpected given national and global economic conditions, as well as other external factors beyond our control that are impacting Hawaii," Lingle said in a statement. "The lower revenue projections reflect the challenges we will face as a state in the next couple of years, and underscore the need for all of us to work together. "

Hawaii is certainly not alone, according to the National Conference of State Legislatures, which says only 12 states aren’t expecting budget shortfalls.

“These budget gaps are approaching those seen in the last recession, which were the worst since World War II, and show every sign of growing larger,” NCSL Executive Director William T. Pound said in a statement. "While the data we collected from state legislative fiscal officers are pretty sobering, our discussions with legislative leaders tell us that they expect the problem to only get worse.”

(This article was edited 1/13/09 for clarification following new information).

Monday, January 5, 2009

Grim budget news, times 10

Gov. Linda Lingle has proposed a budget that assumes the economy will dip only half a percentage point during the fiscal year that ends June 30. But lawmakers said Monday they’re expecting revenue losses to be 10 times that.

The House Finance and Senate Ways and Means committees held a combined informational session where the Republican governor’s budget director, Georgina Kawamura, briefed them on the Administration’s 2009-2011 spending plan. Briefings on specific departments continue through the week.

But the Council on Revenues, when it meets Friday, could render the current spending plans obsolete. Tax collections have been down 2.6 percent during the first five months of the fiscal year, and the year could end up down 5 percent over the previous year.

That would be $225 million less on a roughly $11 billion budget, compared with the $22.5 million the governor was working with.

If so, an administration spending plan that already cuts 14 percent of discretionary spending could be forced to slice deeper – much deeper.

Democratic majority lawmakers, as expected, had plenty of questions.

But several of them focused on Lingle’s restructuring of the state’s bonds to push about $300 million in annual debt payments eight years into the future, when she will no longer be in office.

“To me, it’s somewhat misleading,” said Senate Majority Leader Gary Hooser, D-Kauii, Niihau. “We’re just extending our debt.”

“We’re deferring it; we’re not saving it,” said Senate Ways and Means Committee Chairwoman Donna Mercado Kim. “We’re leaving it to the future to pay it … So it’s not a true savings.”

The Administration will do whatever is necessary to balance the budget, said Kawamura. It’s an ongoing process, she said.

“We cannot do it by cuts alone,” Kawamura said. “It is agony for us in regards to what we have to do every day to get a balanced fiscal plan.”