Photo: Emily Metcalf
Photo: Emily Metcalf

Hawaii’s Economic Forecast Revised Downward

The Council on Revenues yesterday lower its projection for Hawaii’s the current and upcoming fiscal years.

The Council, whose forecasts help set the budget for the state legislature and governor, are predicting 14.5 percent economic growth for this fiscal year, and downgraded the state’s general economic growth projection to 9.5 percent from 11 percent.

Because of numerous tax hikes passed by the legislature this year, the Council members believe tax revenues will increase 5 percent this fiscal year, and another 1 percent in 2013, but that still will mean a decrease in tax revenues by at least $120 million.

Gov. Neil Abercrombie said while there are economic challenges, he confident that the Council’s actions can be accommodated under the state’s current financial plan.

“The continued uncertainty in the economy, as reflected in today’s outlook from the Council on Revenues – and recent forecasts from the University of Hawai’i Economic Research Organization and state Department of Business, Economic Development, and Tourism – underscores federal government instability and concerns about the strength of foreign economies. 

My Administration has put in place strategic plans that account for necessary revenue adjustments.

“Hawai’i needs to continue sound fiscal policies that will enable economic growth that addresses our financial challenges, cares for our environment, invests in people, and creates the good jobs that will keep future generations here in Hawai’i. 

“We need to continue forging ahead with our administration’s plan to spark immediate job growth through public works projects; build a sustainable economy in Hawai’i including in clean energy, food security and broadband; and carefully manage our tax dollars.”

Stimulus Not So Stimulating for Job Growth, Commissioner Said

The Mercatus Center has released a study that examines whether the billions of “stimulus” dollars spent through the 2009 American Recovery and Reinvestment Act actually created jobs and went to hiring the unemployed.

Hawaii Stimulus Commission Member Ed Kemp has reviewed the study.

He points out that the stimulus program’s main purpose was to create jobs at a cost of nearly $1 trillion.

However, the jobless rate increased rather dramatically under the program and continues to remain high today.

Kemp said the fact is that Americans don’t know – and will likely never know – the extent that the stimulus program “created or saved jobs” because of the way the jobs were counted.

The system mandated by the Federal Government was changed mid-stream so there is little continuity.

In addition, the way recipients counted jobs varied and had a bias towards higher numbers, Kemp said.

Hawaii Reporter has found that Hawaii received 1.8 billion dollars in stimulus funds and has spent 1.3 billion dollars.

That program created or saved 2,046 jobs at a cost to taxpayers of 650,000 dollars per job.

A Matter of Ethics

At the Hawaii Legislature, House Speaker Calvin Say and Senate President Shan Tsutsui have sent a letter to the Attorney General.

They are requesting an opinion on their recently formed Mortgage Task Force.

That request came after State Ethics Commission director Les Kondo ruled that some of the appointed members should not be on the commission because they have conflicts of interest.

Kondo is under a great deal of scrutiny by legislators this year because he has been strict with them in terms of their fundraising options.

He’s also put tough limitations on gifts they can accept from lobbyists and the public.

Hawaii Reapportionment Commission Takes Show on the Road

The Hawaii Reapportionment Commission has developed a proposed redistricting plan based population changes in Hawaii’s congressional districts and state House and Senate districts.

The commission will hold a total of 13 meetings on various islands to review the plan and allow public input.

Wednesday, the commission will be at the state Capitol at 6 p.m.

Commissioners will also meet Thursday, September 8 at Mililani High School Cafeteria and on Friday, September 9 on Lanai High School Cafeteria, both at 6 p.m. Next week, commissioners will travel to Molokai and the Big Island.

The Reapportionment Commission will approve a Final Plan by September 26.

Any interested person may testify at the public hearings hearing. Written testimony may also be submitted until September 16, 2011 to the Commission at reapportionment@hawaii.gov, by fax at (808) 586-4105 or by mail to 802 Lehua Ave., Pearl City, Hawaii 96782.

To see the proposal or get information on how to submit testimony, log on to the commission’s web site at http://hawaii.gov/elections/reapportionment

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