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”Governor Releases Revised State Budget Today”

Gov. Linda Lingle will release today at noon a revised financial plan for the state for Fiscal Years 03, 04 and 05. She reworked the $7.3 billion biannual operating budget originally submitted to the state Legislature in the beginning of the 2003 Legislative session because state revenues are falling short of the Council on Revenues’ earlier projections. By state law, the governor must use the Council on Revenues’ projections for the basis of the state budget.

The governor maintained in an earlier press conference that despite the shortfall, she will not cut existing programs or state personnel for FY 2003 or raise taxes. She also has stated clearly that she will not drain the state’s $180 million Hurricane Relief Fund or Rainy Day Fund to balance the FY 2003 budget, because she believes it is important to maintain the funds for true emergencies and to help maintain the state’s bond rating. Lingle says the Hurricane and Rainy Day funds would only be tapped if the state faced a dire emergency situation brought on by war or a natural disaster.

Strategies the governor will use to balance the budget include transfers from special funds to the general fund and tightening the guidelines surrounding tax credits, such as the high tech tax credits issued through Act 221. Act 221, which is touted by the technology community as extremely beneficial to those companies producing intellectual property or research valuable to the community, also has wreaked havoc on the state’s budget. That is mainly because a loophole in the state law allowed motion picture producers to get up to a 250 percent return on their investment in one-time movies made in Hawaii. The tax credit is being revised to be patterned after the new federal research tax credit, which provides benefits only for new and added projects and new job creation.

Another source of “revenue enhancement” will come from restructuring the state’s bonded indebtedness — the state will take advantage of current favorable reduced market rates. There also will be some savings from adjustments to expenditures from various departments and projects.

The governor has stressed the operating budget remains a “work in progress.” She says she will continue to offer executive assistance and dialogue to leaders of the Senate and House so they can reach mutually accepted compromises, especially in light of the war in Iraq and damage it may have on Hawaii’s economy in the long and short terms.

”Djou Says No New Taxes, Hannemann Agrees Saying City Not Cut to the Bone”

City Councilmember Charles Djou maintains Mayor Jeremy Harris does not need to raise property taxes and city fees to balance the city’s budget.

Now his position is being reinforced by former City Council Chair Mufi Hannemann, who plans to run for mayor in 2004 or as soon as the mayor’s seat becomes vacant.

Djou says the city budget presented by the mayor’s administrators for the Council’s approval, is growing by 5.5 percent, and that if the mayor just cut his increases by 2 percent, still increasing the budget by 3.5 percent, there will be no need to raise taxes.

Hannemann said on KHVH radio this morning that he too would not support a tax increase unless the city can show it has cut its budget to the “bare bones” and has eliminated such waste as construction cost overruns that traditionally have gone as high as 30 percent.

“Until you do that, it is difficult to show tax increase is warranted,” Hannemann says. “We are used to the mayor’s mantra “the city is doing more with less” and it is time his budget figures are held up to more scrutiny.”

”State Senator Files Lawsuit Over Landfill in Her District”

State Sen. Colleen Hanabusa, D-Waianae, and the Ko Olina Community Association filed a lawsuit yesterday in First Circuit Court against the City & County of Honolulu over its proposed expansion of the landfill in Waimanalo Gulch over the next five years. The landfill is located in Hanabusa’s district and in close proximity to the Ko Olina Resort and other businesses in Ko Olina.

According to the lawsuit, which highlights 15 accusations against the defendant, the City intends to expand by 14.9 acres the landfill capability of the existing 86.5 acres in use at the Waimanalo Gulch Sanitary Landfill.

The counts include an accusation that the city has not looked for alternatives to the landfill, which was supposed to be on a temporarily site but has continued to be expanded in height and life, much to the community’s dismay. Another count maintains the City has not considered the economic impact of the landfill expansion.

”’See related stories in Hawaii Reporter:”’

“Living in a Landfill”

“Senator Challenges Department of Health Over Toxic Dirt Dumping”

“Contaminated Dirt Going to Landfill”

”State Education Chair Looking More Like a Scoundrel Every Day”

Senate Education Committee Chairman Norman Sakamoto, D-Moanalua, gave his word to Gov. Linda Lingle and those in favor of her education platform that he would pass her bills out of committee without amendments that would destroy the original intent. He has changed his mind and broke his promise, and Hawaii voters don’t seem to appreciate that. In a HawaiiReporter.com Hero or Scoundrel

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