Pritchett's Pen

Pritchett's Pen

BY JIM DOOLEY – Using words like “fiscal sinkhole” and “budget crisis,” Gov. Neil Abercrombie this afternoon presented his preliminary budget that projects a deficit of nearly $72 million over the next six months and $772 million over the following two fiscal years.

Abercrombie said the initial budget numbers presented to legislators were prepared by the previous administration and will be altered and amended in coming weeks.

He insisted that he will not raise the state’s General Excise Tax, will not lay off state workers and in fact will not extend the worker furlough program now in effect that is due to expire July 1.

Nor does he intend to transfer hotel room tax revenues from the counties to the state.

“First we’re going to reconfigure, retool and restructure our fractured government infrastructure.,” Abercrombie said.

“Crisis is often an opportunity,” the governor said, adding that he plans to create new jobs by embarking on new public works projects.

“If we’re going to pull ourselves out of this big sinkhole, this fiscal sinkhole,  we’re going to have invest some money,” he said.

Abercrombie said he will be asking the Hawaii State Legislature next month for “emergency appropriations” to fund shortfalls in Medicaid and welfare programs.

He will also ask for money to operate his own office and the office of Lt. Gov. Brian Schatz.

Executive offices “have essentially no funds to operate for the next six months without an emergency appropriation,” he said.

Pressed for specifics on where he will find the funds to cover the deficit and to finance his programs, Abercrombie said the money “will come from us and it’s going to stay here. We’re going to re-tool and reconfigure what we’re doing here.”

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Jim Dooley joined the Hawaii Reporter staff as an investigative reporter in October 2010. Before that, he has worked as a print and television reporter in Hawaii since 1973, beginning as a wire service reporter with United Press International. He joined Honolulu Advertiser in 1974, working as general assignment and City Hall reporter until 1978. In 1978, he moved to full-time investigative reporting in for The Advertiser; he joined KITV news in 1996 as investigative reporter. Jim returned to Advertiser 2001, working as investigative reporter and court reporter until 2010. Reach him at Jim@hawaiireporter.com