BY HAWAII REPORTER

Congressional Spending Measure Includes $2.7 million of Hawaii Cuts

A short-term spending bill passed by Congress includes at least $2.7 million of cuts affecting Hawaii, including slicing money for the Bishop Museum and Polynesian Voyaging Society, according to U.S. Rep. Colleen Hanabusa.

The measure that was proposed by House Republicans contains two weeks of funding at current levels in exchange for budget cuts, Hanabusa said. The measure was passed by both chambers of Congress, avoiding a shutdown of the federal government after current funding measures expire on March 4.

Some of the measures that affect Hawaii include a $700,000 cut to the state Department of Education’s Assistance to Low Performing Schools Project and a like amount from the Kauai Economic Development Board for science, technology, engineering and math education.

The Maui Economic Development Board is being dealt an $800,000 cut for programs that help girls and historically underrepresented students in several curriculum areas.

Another $300,000 is being chopped from the Polynesian Voyaging Society’s educational programs and $200,000 from the Bishop Museum’s assessments and educational program.

“As we move forward and begin to work on a long-term funding bill, my hope is that Republicans will look at the value of some of these programs instead of just making cuts wherever they can in order to fulfill campaign promises,” said Hanabusa in a statement her office issued.

“There are responsible ways to cut government spending while creating jobs and investing in our future – this is not one of them.”

Hanabusa and fellow Hawaii U.S. Rep. Mazie Hirono voted against the funding measure, while in the Senate Sens. Daniel Akaka and Daniel Inouye voted for it.

Honolulu Residents Carry High Credit Card Debt

Honolulu consumers had the fifth-highest credit card debt balances in the nation at the end of 2010, according to a data from Experian, a credit information bureau.

Moreover, Experian reported Honolulu was one of the few cities in its top 25 ranking where there was an increase in the number of credit cards between 2009 and 2010. It reported on average Honolulu balances were $4,939, or 15 percent higher than the national average.

The company reported the average balance nationally was a little more than $4,200 with the average number of bankcards consumers held at 1.97 cards.

San Antonio, Texas, topped the list with the highest average balance of $5,177.

Honolulu Job Market More Favorable than Most

The Conference Board’s monthly online job index shows Honolulu continues to be one of the more favorable markets for employment.

The business research group reported there are about two job seekers in Honolulu for every advertised online line help-wanted advertisement, one of the best ratios in the country. Nationally there are 3.24 unemployed people for every job vacancy posted on the Internet, it said.

It said Washington D.C. has the most favorable job market, with a 1.24 ratio. Honolulu was among several cities (Milwaukee, Boston, and Minneapolis-St. Paul) that also registered as having a low ratio in February.

Hawaii Professional Football League to Start Play Friday

The new Hawaii Professional Football League said it will kick off its inaugural season with a double-header this Friday at Aloha Stadium.

The non-profit league was founded by Carson Peapealalo, a former University of Hawaii football player.

Survey Finds Hawaii has Expensive Weddings

A survey by The Knot Inc. lists Hawaii has having the 19th-most expensive wedding costs excluding the honeymoon.

The company said the Hawaii wedding spend was $26,722 on average, or 19th highest among the regions surveyed. People married in Manhattan in New York City had the priciest weddings at $70,730.

The Knot said on average 82 guests were invited in Hawaii, with weddings in the Aloha State being the most casual among the areas it surveyed.

HMSA Reports Fourth Quarter Profit

The Hawaii Medical Service Association capped 2010 with a $14.3 million profit in the fourth quarter, helped by increased premium rates and better investment returns.

HMSA, the state’s largest healthcare insurer, said the results helped it show net income for the year.

Fourth-quarter revenue improved while benefit expense shrank compared to a year earlier. Investment gains also rose compared to the 2009 period and helped give HMSA an operating profit for the quarter. During the year HMSA raised premiums for small businesses by 7.8 percent on average. It also reorganized some functions to gain efficiencies and cut pay for its president and chief executive officer by almost a third to $855,331.

The insurer reported net income of $5.27 million for 2010.

It said reserves rose to $389.6 million during the year, or $576 per member.

Speaker of Georgia House Says He Doesn’t Believe Birther Bill Will Survive

David Ralston, Speaker of the Georgia House of Representatives, says he doesn’t believe a measure requiring Pres. Barack Obama to provide a long-form birth certificate to get on that state’s ballot will survive.

Ralston, in an interview with the Atlanta Journal-Constitution, said he would not stop committee-level debate on the bill that was submitted to the Legislature on Monday. He suggested to the newspaper the bill stood little chance of making it to the floor even though it was co-sponsored by 93 legislators.

Ralston also told the paper that he doesn’t follow the so-called birther school of thought that contends Obama wasn’t born in the U.S. and therefore cannot serve as president.

 

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