BY JIM DOOLEY – A proposed new $6.1 billion state operating budget has been presented to state lawmakers by Gov. Neil Abercrombie, representing a 7.8 per cent spending increase in the coming fiscal year with another 11 per cent rise the following year.
A news conference called by the governor today to unveil the budget document was cancelled by news of the death of U.S. Sen. Daniel Inouye.
In a written release, Abercrombie said the budget includes provisions to protect Hawaii’s youngest and oldest residents, expand government’s technology infrastructure, protect watersheds and expand renewable energy resources.
“The balanced budget will build upon sound strategies that will continue to stimulate our local economy while moving forward on IT (information technology) transformation initiatives,” Abercrombie said.
The proposal also contains funds to restore five per cent pay reductions imposed on government workers during because of the economic recession.
And it contains funds “to begin to seriously address” multi-billion deficits in the state’s pension and health care trust funds for government workers, according to the governor.
Abercrombie said the spending plan is based on economic forecasts from the state Council on Revenues, which has forecasted moderate increases in tax revenues of 3.9 per cent in fiscal year 2014 and 4.9 per cent in 2015.
Tax revenues for the current fiscal year are up 11.3 per cent, far outstripping the Council on Revenue’s prediction of 4.9 per cent.
The lower revenue projections were based in part on burgeoning renewable tax credits, which the governor has said he intends to modify in the coming year.
“While uncertainties continue to loom on the federal level even this late into the calendar year, there is good reason to focus on Hawaii’s outlook as optimistic, even if moderated,” Abercrombie said.
The full budget proposal can be viewed here.