Showing posts with label recession. Show all posts
Showing posts with label recession. Show all posts

Friday, March 10, 2023

Hawaii may duck recession, Health Department reports death registry data breach, wage hikes recommended for Honolulu officials, more news from all the Hawaiian Islands

Hawaii to avoid recession, UHERO report says. The state’s gross domestic product — the value of Hawaii’s goods and serv­ices adjusted for inflation — will slow to 1.7% growth in 2023 from 2.5% in the previous year, according to quarterly report due out today by the University of Hawaii Economic Research Organization. Star-Advertiser.

As Hawaiʻi's minimum wage rises, some lawmakers want to scrap the tip credit. By the time the minimum wage increases to $18 by 2028, the tip credit will increase to $1.50 — making the minimum wage for tipped workers $16.50 an hour.  Hawaii Public Radio.

Budget bill allocates much less to the Hawaiʻi Tourism Authority than requested. House Bill 300 includes a $35 million appropriation to the Hawai‘i Tourism Authority–thatʻs $40 million less than what was requested.  Maui Now. Garden Island.

Bill requiring clergy to report sacramental confessions of child abuse moves to Senate.
When religious clergy were added to the state's list of mandatory reporters, the law exempted the reporting of abuse disclosed during penitential communication. Hawaii Public Radio.

Hawaii Lawmaker Quietly Kills Bill To Allow Unlicensed Midwives To Continue Practicing
. House Bill 955 cleared two committees before stalling this month in the House Finance Committee chaired by Rep. Kyle Yamashita. Civil Beat.

Hawaii Health Department warns of breach to death registry. The Hawaii Department of Health today announced there has been a security breach of its Electronic Death Registry System. Star-Advertiser. Maui Now.  Hawaii News Now. KHON2.

It’s not your imagination: The price of rice is way up. The price of rice has jumped 40% in just the last two years. And that’s spurring tough calculations for family households and eateries.  Hawaii News Now.


Honolulu Salary Commission recommends wage increases for city leadership. The Honolulu Salary Committee had not recommended salary increases in the last four years; but this year, it is proposing a big bump for some positions. KHON2.

Honolulu planning director says more employees are needed to solve permitting backlog. Dawn Takeuchi Apuna, the director of Honolulu's Department of Planning and Permitting, updated the City Council's budget committee on the department's needs for fiscal year 2024. Among those priorities, she requested a 26% bump for salaries across all of DPP's six divisions.  Hawaii Public Radio.

Mayor signs bill to encourage inclusion, protect diversity.  Bill 25 establishes a policy of anti-bias and inclusion for all City officers and employees. This includes different perspectives, views or opinions. KHON2. KITV4.

Waiahole Valley tenants get reprieves over rent. A state agency trying to increase ground-lease rents in Waiahole Valley for about 100 residential and farm tenants with decades-old low rates made several moves Thursday to defuse the tense situation where some fear evictions. Star-Advertiser.

Punaluu homeowner faces $188K fine for shoreline violations. An oceanfront property owner in Punaluu faces a $188,000 fine for numerous shoreline violations, including refusing to remove giant sandbags, heavy black tarps and boulders that form a tangled mess along the public beach in front of his home. Star-Advertiser.

Bathroom recording incidents at Ala Moana Center prompt police security message. Officers have arrested a man accused of using his cell phone to record a teenage boy inside a bathroom stall at Ala Moana Center. Police say it’s the second time a situation like this has happened in the mall’s public restrooms in recent months. Hawaii News Now.

Oahu’s Pig Farmers Want To Change The Conversation On Food Security. Hawaii's demand for pork is on the rise but slaughterhouses cater to beef. Civil Beat.

Hawaii Island

Hawaiʻi Countyʻs transportation administrator leaving after 18 months revamping Hele-On. Hawaiʻi County’s Mass Transit Agency, commonly called Hele-On, will be looking for a new administrator. John Andoh, the current administrator, will be stepping down effective March 31 to transition to a similar role on the mainland. Big Island Now.

Geologist: It’s too soon to know if our recent Kilauea eruption has actually ended. With the latest Kilauea eruption on pause, geologists are monitoring the volcano to determine what will happen next. Tribune-Herald.

County’s Safe Place initiative expands. Mayor Mitch Roth’s office announced Tuesday the Hawaii County Mass Transit Agency, in partnership with National Safe Place Network, is expanding the Safe Place initiative to include The Salvation Army Family Intervention Services. Tribune-Herald.


Land Board weighs Kaanapali Beach restoration project.  The state Board of Land and Natural Resources is expected to decide today whether to approve an agreement forged between the Department of Land and Natural Resources and a private resort association requiring them to split the costs of a $10 million beach restoration project long planned for Maui’s Kaanapali Beach. Star-Advertiser. Maui Now.

Context for Maui hate crime ruling includes complex history. A recent federal hate crime ruling against two Native Hawaiian men from Maui is sparking discussions on the broader societal context in Hawaiʻi that enables hate and bias in the first place. Hawaii Public Radio.


Kaua‘i council supports birth attendant exemption. The Kaua‘i County Council resolution ultimately passed in a 5-1 vote, but the House bill may be dead in the water regardless. Garden Island.

Master plan would reshape Mahelona Hospital on Kaua‘i. Officials are closing in on a final master plan for Samuel Mahelona Memorial Hospital and the surrounding areas, which will include a new library, police substation and hundreds of units of housing. Garden Island.

Tuesday, March 31, 2020

Hawaii map shows COVID-19 cases by ZIP approximation, inter-island travelers face 14-day quarantine, public defender wants 426 inmates released, more news from all the Hawaiian Islands

Hawaii Department of Health
Hawaii COVID-19 map, week 1. Hawaii Department of Health
Hawaii Department of Health creates COVID-19 confirmed cases map.

New Island Maps Plot Location Of COVID-19 Cases In Hawaii. A new set of maps showing the confirmed coronavirus cases by zip code will be updated once a week, the state health website says. Big Island Video News.

DOH Releases Hawai‘i COVID-19 Virus Map. The Hawai‘i Department of Health on Monday evening released a map of COVID-19 infections across all four major Hawaiian Islands, which tracks where cases are most heavily concentrated. Big Island Now.


Interisland quarantine starts Wednesday. A mandatory 14-day self-quarantine for interisland travelers starting Wednesday comes as Hawaii begins to address a shift in COVID-19 cases from mostly out-of-state travel-related to more in-state. Star-Advertiser.

Interisland Travelers Ordered To Quarantine; Case Total Now At 204. Hawaii Gov. David Ige is imposing a fourteen-day mandatory quarantine on interisland travelers starting on Wednesday. The emergency order will close a gap in the state safety net aimed at curbing the spread of the coronavirus. Hawaii Public Radio.

Governor expands state’s mandatory quarantine to include inter-island travelers, too. The governor is expanding a mandatory, 14-day quarantine for air travel to include all inter-island passengers as part of a push to prevent the spread of coronavirus in the state. Hawaii News Now.

Governor Ige puts 14-day quarantine on inter-island travelers. With 204 cases of COVID-19 in Hawaii, Governor Ige announced Monday that the mandatory two-week quarantine for all incoming passengers will now include those who fly inter-island. KHON2.

Interisland travelers face quarantine. After midnight tonight, anyone taking an interisland flight who is not an essential worker traveling for legitimate work purposes will be subjected to “a mandatory 14-day self-quarantine,” Gov. David Ige said Monday. Tribune-Herald.

Gov Signs New Order, Inter-island Quarantine Starts April 1. Governor David Ige made some COVID-19 related announcements on Monday, while Lt. Gov. Josh Green gave a situational update. Big Island Video News.

Inter-Island Travelers to Face Mandatory Quarantine, Hawai‘i Gets $4 Billion in Aid. Anyone in Hawai‘i who wants to island-hop during the month of April will have to pay with 14 days of mandatory quarantine — on top of the cost of airfare. Big Island Now.

Gov. Ige Calls for Mandatory 14-Day Quarantine on Interisland Travel for Month of April. During an afternoon press conference, Governor David Ige announced a mandatory self quarantine for inter-island travel beginning on Wednesday, April 1, 2020. Maui Now.


Hawaii COVID-19 Count Exceeds 200. The number of new cases has more than doubled since last Wednesday. Civil Beat.

Child is among 204 cases in Hawaii. At least two people, including a 37-year-old Waikiki bartender, are on life support and ventilators in Hawaii hospitals due to the new coronavirus. Star-Advertiser.

Ahead of the Curve. Lieutenant Governor Josh Green played a high stakes round of the “on the other hand” game at a press conference Monday — encouraging Hawai‘i residents that the state could see low COVID-19 mortality rates if people follow the rules, but warning that a failure to do so would still lead to a public health catastrophe. Big Island Now.

Hawaii blood samples caught in pandemic’s disruption of air travel. The precipitous drop in airlift to and from Hawaii is having hidden consequences that could affect precious cargo including the supply of blood for patients in the islands. Star-Advertiser.

COVID-19 Is Taking A Big Toll On Other Types Of Health Care. Many hospitals are canceling elective procedures, while dwindling numbers of patients are threatening the bottom line of community and rural clinics. Civil Beat.

Some Hawaii hospitals accept homemade masks as experts urge public to wear them. The coronavirus pandemic is prompting Hawaii’s health care system to change some of its old rules. Some hospitals are now accepting donations of homemade masks as the CDC considers guidelines that would recommend everyone to wear them in public. Hawaii News Now.

More schools will hand out grab-and-go meals, according to the Hawaii Department of Education. 46 public schools statewide will serve breakfast and lunch to children 18 years old or younger by Wednesday, April 1. Prior to this, only 38 campuses were serving meals. Hawaii News Now.

Jail time for crimes increased during emergency proclamation. The state is under an emergency proclamation, so certain crimes committed during this time will carry enhanced penalties. KHON2.


Public Defender’s Office Wants Hundreds More Hawaii Inmates Released. That includes 137 inmates from the Oahu Community Correctional Center, 44 from Kauai, 45 from Maui, 197 from Hilo, and three from the women’s facility on Oahu. Civil Beat.

Public Defender’s Office Wants Hundreds More Hawaii Inmates Released. Public defender recommends up to 426 inmates be released. The Office of the Public Defender late Monday submitted to the Hawaii Supreme Court a list with the names of 426 inmates that it believes may be released from incarceration to help ease Oahu’s overpopulated jails in the face of the coronavirus outbreak. Star-Advertiser.

Balance COVID Restrictions With Freedoms, ACLU Tells Police. The letter offers guidance on COVID-19-related movement restrictions, and cautions against arrests "due to the risks of COVID-19 exposure for people in custody and people working in jails. Big Island Video News.


Hawaii’s Economic Downturn Will Be ‘Sharp And Painful’. A new University of Hawaii report paints a grim picture for Hawaii’s economic outlook. Civil Beat.

Economist: Recession in Hawaii will surpass anything we’ve seen ‘in our lifetimes’. Carl Bonham, director of the Economic Research Organization at the University of Hawaii, made the dire economic prediction in a legislative meeting on the coronavirus pandemic Monday. Hawaii News Now.

Economist: Hawaii in recession as virus shuts down tourism. The coronavirus pandemic has plunged the state’s economy into a recession that’s unprecedented for people alive in Hawaii today, a University of Hawaii economist told lawmakers Monday. Associated Press.

State lawmakers, meeting over Zoom, discussed a new UHERO forecast update that addresses the economic impacts associated with the COVID-19 pandemic. The COVID-19 pandemic is taking heavy toll on the economy, and Hawaiʻi is already in a deep recession that will surpass anything that we’ve seen in our lifetimes. Big Island Video News.

“This is a song and dance!” Senators accuse Governor’s office of poor leadership in COVID-19 crisis. Senator Kidani tells Governor’s Chief of Staff, the Senate committee was “dismayed” at information getting “circumvented.”  Strong words flying between state Senators and the Governor’s office on Monday. KITV4.

Hawaii unemployment could soar to 25% before recovery begins. Hawaii’s unemployment rate is projected to soar to 25% later this year in the economic free fall triggered by the coronavirus disaster, but the state is also in line to receive at least $4 billion in federal aid from the new federal relief bill approved Friday, according to testimony before a select state House committee Monday morning. Star-Advertiser.

COVID-19 Might be an Act of God That Voids Business Contracts. It’s possible that some businesses in Hawai‘i will try to claim that circumstances surrounding COVID-19 absolve them of obligations under a business contract. Hawaii Business.

Hawaii to get at least $4B in federal coronavirus aid. The federal government will send at least $4 billion in coronavirus funding to Hawaii in the form of direct payments to the state and county governments, individuals and businesses, which are also eligible for millions in loans from the U.S. Small Business Administration. Pacific Business News.


Hiking trails may be open but off-limits in closed parks. When Hawaii Kai resident Lisa Westly checked the Na Ala Hele hiking trails website of the state Department of Land and Natural Resources’ Division of Forestry and Wildlife on Thursday, she was happy to see the Hawaii Loa Ridge trail, a nearby favorite, was open, despite the closure of several city and state parks to counter the coronavirus’ spread. Star-Advertiser.

Giant Tesla batteries proposed for Oahu power. Hawaiian Electric is proposing to plug Oahu’s power grid into an enormous battery pack. Star-Advertiser.

Hawaii Island

County announces online appointment request form. The County of Hawaii now has an appointment request form available online for those needing access to county services. Due to the COVID-19 pandemic, the county is no longer taking face-to-face appointments. West Hawaii Today.

Hilo Intermediate School to serve ‘grab-and-go’ meals starting April 6. The state Department of Education said Monday that Hilo Union Elementary School on April 6 will become one of the Big Island public schools where parents, guardians or caregivers can pick up a “grab-and-go” meal for all public and charter school students.  Tribune-Herald.

Hawaii Island Humane Society introduces way to ‘foster to adopt’ animals online. The Hawaii Island Humane Society animal shelters are closed on the Big Island, but adoption and fostering demands remain high during the COVID-19 outbreak. Tribune-Herald.


MEDB Gets $100K for Local Manufacturing of Ventilators During COVID-19 Response. Mayor Michael Victorino announced today, $100,000 in grant funds to Maui Economic Development Board Inc. for local production of emergency ventilators to treat COVID-19. Maui Now.

Maui Health Foundation Coordinating PPE Donations. Maui Health is partnering with the Maui Health Foundation to serve as a community drop-off site for Personal Protective Equipment (PPE) donations. Maui Now.


Kauaʻi gun shop see “sizeable uptick” in sales. Bryant’s store is open six days a week and follows island-wide measures in line with Mayor Derek Kawakami’s curfew. Garden Island.

Virtual screenings. Kaua‘i nurse practitioner Marghee Maupin is offering COVID-19 screenings to patients with or without insurance, and is conducting virutal exams via online video platforms to consult with her patients. Garden Island.


Coronavirus-Free Moloka'i Wants To Keep It That Way. A coronavirus outbreak on Molokaʻi could severely strain the island’s health care system with just one hospital - Molokaʻi General Hospital -  serving its more than 7,000 residents. Hawaii Public Radio.

Friday, March 13, 2020

Merrie Monarch canceled, Hawaii coronavirus testing lags far behind, Hawaiian heiress Kawananakoa found unfit to manage $215M estate, more news from all the Hawaiian Islands

copyright 2020 All Hawaii News all rights reserved
Merrie Monarch hula ©2020 All Hawaii News
Hawaii has tested only 32 for coronavirus. Hawaii health officials have contacted roughly 350 people who have been exposed to the new coronavirus, but only 32 individuals have been tested. Star-Advertiser.


Merrie Monarch canceled. The 57th annual Merrie Monarch Festival in Hilo has been canceled, marking the latest and one of the most anticipated events in Hawaii to be suspended in the wake of the spreading COVID-19 disease. Star-Advertiser.

Organizers cancel Merrie Monarch Festival, citing ongoing coronavirus fears. The Merrie Monarch Festival, the biggest stage for hula in the world, will be canceled this year because of the ongoing coronavirus pandemic. Hawaii News Now.

Merrie Monarch Festival Canceled Over Coronavirus Fears. It’s the latest in a series of cancellations across Hawaii and the nation. Civil Beat.

Merrie Monarch Festival 2020 Cancelled. The world's premier hula festival will not take place this year due to the COVID-19 pandemic. Big Island Video News.

Merrie Monarch Festival Officially Canceled. The 57th annual Merrie Monarch Festival — the most renowned celebration of hula in the world, held every year on the Big Island — has been canceled in response to fears surrounding the COVID-19 global pandemic. Big Island Now.

“This was such a hard decision to make,” Organizers cancel 2020 Merrie Monarch Festival. After heavy consideration, organizers and sponsors of the 2020 Merrie Monarch Festival announced that the event will not be held. KHON2.

Decision to cancel Merrie Monarch praised. The hula competition, while the crown jewel of Merrie Monarch week, is just one aspect of the weeklong festival. Tribune-Herald.


Hawaii braces for possible recession as economic fallout of virus grows. Even if the coronavirus does not become widespread in Hawaii, business leaders said the pandemic is already hurting Hawaii businesses. Hawaii News Now.

Isle lawmakers hear dire forecasts. The newly created House Select Committee on COVID-19 Economic and Financial Preparedness heard a grim assessment Thursday morning of the near-term prospects for the Hawaii economy, and was also warned that unemployment claims are already beginning to increase. Star-Advertiser.

Can Hawaii’s Construction Industry Make Up For Slumping Tourism? A task force on COVID-19 floated ideas to boost the state economy through an outbreak. Civil Beat.

Hawaii Coronavirus Impact Committee Handed Grim Prognosis. The first meeting of a state House advisory committee looking at a possible downturn in the Hawaii economy in the wake of the coronavirus heard what many suspected: the impact is here and it's worse than projected. Hawaii Public Radio.

Flurry of blows to tourism. The shutdown of a major cruise line in response to the COVID-19 pandemic is salt in the wounds of many struggling tourism-related businesses in Hawaii. Tribune-Herald.

Bleak Economic Future Ahead Amid Growing COVID-19 Fears, State Leaders Say. Economy experts say it looks like Hawai‘i is headed into a recession as COVID-19 concerns continue to worry communities worldwide. Big Island Now.

Hawaii Coronavirus Updates: State Reduces Growth Forecast, UH To Go Online, Merrie Monarch Canceled. Hawaii Public Radio.

The visitor industry braces for layoffs and lawmakers rush to help. People with jobs related to tourism are already suffering from the drop in visitor arrivals. KHON2.


Government Steps Up Effort To Sanitize Public Spaces. Both the State and the County of Hawaiʻi are taking extra steps to help fight COVID-19. Big Island Video News.

State Spends $260K on Hand Sanitizing Dispensers/Supply at Hawai‘i Airports. The Hawaiʻi Department of Transportation is installing 250 hand sanitizing dispensers with more than 12,000 boxes of anti-bacterial solution that will be placed in high passenger volume areas throughout the airports statewide. Maui Now.

Coronavirus prompts correctional facilities to suspend inmate visits. All correctional facilities are suspending personal visits starting Friday in an effort to slow the spread of the coronavirus that causes the COVID-19 disease, Department of Public Safety Director Nolan Espinda announced today. Star-Advertiser.

Hawai‘i Correctional Facilities Suspend Inmate Personal Visits. Effective today, March 13, 2020, and until further notice, all correctional facilities in Hawaiʻi will suspend inmate personal visits. Maui Now.

Will Hawaii Turn Cruise Ships Away? Cruise ships continue to dock in Hilo and elsewhere in Hawaiʻi, despite the declared pandemic due to COVID-19. Big Island Video News.

Keeping Hawaii’s Homeless Safe From Coronavirus. Without housing to self-quarantine in, the homeless population is at greater risk of contracting COVID-19 and dying from it. Civil Beat.


Judge: Hawaiian Heiress Is Not Capable Of Managing Her Own Affairs. A state judge says the $215 million estate of Abigail Kawananakoa is being wasted and has said a conservator needs to oversee it. Civil Beat.

Kawananakoa found unfit to manage financial affairs. A judge ruled Thursday that Campbell Estate heiress Abigail Kawananakoa is mentally unfit to handle her own financial affairs. Star-Advertiser.


Hawaii Minimum Wage Bill Clears First Senate Hurdle. Some lawmakers still think $13 an hour is too low though. Civil Beat.

Rebuffed By Legislature, Hawaii Counties Seek Solutions To Mounting Abandoned Car Problem. Hawaiʻi’s mayors are not getting the help they’ve sought from the state Legislature this year to tackle a growing problem – abandoned cars. Hawaii Public Radio.


Coronavirus Top Of Mind As Honolulu Budget Committee Begins Review Of Caldwell's Budget Plan. A Honolulu City Council committee kicks off a review of Mayor Kirk Caldwell's multi-billion dollar budget plan on Thursday as the threat of the coronavirus pandemic looms. Caldwell is proposing a $2.98 billion operating budget and $1.27 billion capital improvements budget for fiscal year 2021. Hawaii Public Radio.

Virus Outbreak Is No Excuse To Not Pay Your Property Tax. Property owners who don’t pay could lose their homes to foreclosure, the city’s budget director says. Civil Beat.

Amid outbreak, state’s first regional treatment center opens in Kaneohe. New safety procedures are now in place at Kaneohe's largest medical office building. Hawaii News Now.

Queen’s Medical Center turns ‘disaster tents’ into outdoor coronavirus triage center. The Queen’s Medical Center opened two “disaster tents” outside in its ambulance bay today to evaluate and test patients for the novel coronavirus while keeping them separated from Queen’s emergency room patients. Star-Advertiser.

Hawaii Island

‘I’m just worried’: Continued cruise ship visits have Lt. Gov. concerned about patient surge capacity. While the decision to halt cruise ship visits is out of Lt. Gov. Josh Green’s hands, the West Hawaii doctor is worried that neighbor islands may not have the capacity to handle a surge of presumptive positive COVID-19 cases from a vessel making call. West Hawaii Today.

$103M bond issue breezes through council committee. The County Council has nothing but aloha for a $103 million bond measure to raise money for road construction. West Hawaii Today.

Island’s nine care facilities implement no-visitor policies. Hawaii Island’s long-term nursing and care facilities have implemented unified no-visitor policies in light of the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic. Tribune-Herald.


Mayor Outlines Actions to Protect Maui from Coronavirus. Mayor Michael Victorino said he would be seeking a moratorium of 60 days minimum on cruise ship travel to Maui County. Maui Now.

Cancellations rise with novel coronavirus worries. Off-island school trips halted, Kalaupapa tours suspended to protect elderly patients. Maui News.

Makena project may need broader environmental study. Plan proposes 53 luxury home lots near South Maui’s Makena coastline. Maui News.


County closes various facilities for 60 days. The Department of Parks &Recreation announced the closure of various county facilities and events starting Monday, March 16, and continuing for a period of 60 days. Garden Island.

Combating the new coronavirus. Cruise ships docked on Thursday at Nawiliwili, releasing the usual flood of passengers onto Kaua‘i for shopping, tours and beach outings, just as the Grand Princess cruise ship did on Feb. 26. Garden Island.

Wednesday, March 18, 2009

Hawaii banks less 'troubled'

HONOLULU -- Hawaii banks are more solid than financial institutions in most other states, according to an online comparison project created by a journalism partnership.

The analysis of bank financial statements by the Investigative Reporting Workshop and found nonperforming loans and foreclosed properties on bank books nationwide more than doubled last year.

But Hawaii banks, which tended to avoid many speculative loans, seem on more solid footing, according to the reports filed by the group. That’s especially true of the larger banks. (Check out your bank here.)

“While the recession has put borrowers of all kinds under increasing pressure, the Workshop's analysis makes it clear that real estate lending is causing banks the most difficulty,” said author Wendell Cochran in the report.

“At the end of 2008, nearly 80 percent of the troubled assets were connected in some way to real estate lending, even though only about 60 percent of all loans were real estate-related.”

The analysis is based on reports every bank is required to file each quarter with the Federal Deposit Insurance Corp., the federal agency that protects deposits and is part of the bank regulatory system.

Bank profits have fallen dramatically, and the troubled asset ratio has risen. The troubled asset ratio is a measure of the stress placed on banks by loans. It compares loans that are not being paid on time, and property already acquired by the bank, against the bank's capital and loan loss reserves. The national average was 9.9.

In comparison, Hawaii’s largest bank, First Hawaiian Bank, had a troubled asset ratio of just 2.5 percent and the second largest, Bank of Hawaii, had a ratio of 3.4.

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.”

Monday, December 22, 2008

Lingle presents slimmed-down budget

HONOLULU – Salaries will be frozen and Healthy Start prenatal health care and adult dental care programs abolished, but no state employee would be laid off under a reduced spending plan unveiled today by Gov. Linda Lingle.

The $11.1 billion FY 10 and $11.3 billion FY 11 operating budgets are a 3.8-percent and 3.3-percent reduction, respectively, over the base budget. But Lingle said the numbers represent a 14-percent reduction in discretionary funding over the two-year period.

Lingle also plans to tap into special funds – taking $36 million from the Deposit Beverage Container Special Fund, $9 million from the Wireless Enhanced 911 Special Fund and $40 million from the Emergency and Budget Reserve Fund – in order to balance the budget. The Legislature must agree to emergency appropriation bills in order for her to tap into those sources.

Lingle said she’d met with legislative leaders earlier in the day to present her budget proposal. The Legislature will use the budget as a base for its own deliberations, but doesn’t have to give the governor everything she wants.

“The world has changed and our fiscal situation has changed dramatically. That means it simply cannot be business as usual,” Lingle said during a news conference to announce her proposed budget.

“I believe that we will emerge stronger than we are now,” Lingle added, saying that the grim fiscal picture offers “great incentive to work together” with the Legislature in a collaborative fashion.

Lingle’s proposed cuts are in addition to cuts of $40 million proposed by the Department of Education and $13 million by the University of Hawaii System. Those two departments, combined with Department of Health and Department of Human Services, account for a whopping 78.4 percent of the state operating budget.

In addition to cutting spending and tapping into special funds, Lingle said the state would increase revenues by refinancing debt and collecting more taxes. While there would be no tax increase, Lingle said the state could collect an additional $122 million by stricter enforcement of taxes on cash transactions and tightening Act 221 investment tax credits.

A fast-tracked $3 billion public works program will also stimulate the economy and contribute to a healthy budget, Lingle said.

Sunday, December 21, 2008

Lingle proposes salary freezes

HONOLULU -- Gov. Linda Lingle plans to cut $4.1 million from the state budget by freezing top officials’ salaries for the next two years.

The salary freeze would affect 208 employees, including the governor, lieutenant governor, cabinet heads and deputies and justices of the Hawaii Supreme Court and all state court judges.

The administration employees are scheduled for salary hikes of 5 percent on July 1, 2009 and 3.5 percent on July 1, 2010. The justices and judges are scheduled for salary increases of 10 percent in 2009 and 3.5 percent in 2010.

Lingle will propose a bill in the 2009 legislative session to accomplish the salary freezes. The bill covers the positions recommended for increases in 2007 by the Commission on Salaries. The increases will go into effect automatically unless the Legislature takes action.

The bill also would suspend a 3.5-percent increase scheduled for all 76 state legislators for January 1, 2010. Additionally, Lingle is asking the Legislature to forgo the 36 percent ($12,808) salary increases lawmakers are scheduled to receive on Jan. 1, 2009. This would save an additional $486,704 in fiscal year 2009.

“…It is important that state leaders also make sacrifices and lead by example,” Lingle said in a statement. “At a time when many Hawaii residents are losing their jobs or seeing their salaries frozen or reduced, it would be inappropriate for state leaders to accept pay raises.”