Hawaii Sees 'Optimistic Financial Picture' Ahead

Cautiously optimistic.

That's the tone Hawaii taxpayers can expect when Gov. Neil Abercrombie releases his budget update Monday. The so-called supplemental budget would lay out any additional expenses, revenues or restrictions to the existing 2012-2013 biennium budget.

The current budget is $11 billion. Whatever Abercrombie requests above that will be a starting point for legislative debate when the session begins Jan. 18.

The state's deputy budget director says his office is encouraged by strong tax revenue growth and savings from the state's recent billion-dollar bond sale.

"We're still holding to a cautious, but optimistic financial picture," Luis Salaveria, deputy director of the Department of Budget and Finance, told Civil Beat. "The most recent tax revenue data shows numbers are higher than last year, but hovering a little lower than what we anticipated."

Tax revenue funneling into the state's general fund was up 6 percent 1 through October, compared to the same time frame last year, according to the Department of Taxation. Preliminary figures for November were not yet available.

The Council on Revenues is projecting 14.5 percent growth in general fund revenue for the fiscal year ending June 30.

The panel said the forecast is made up of three parts: 5.2 percent pure economic growth; 4.3 percent attributed to the lingering effect of delaying tax refunds in July 2010; and 5 percent tied to tax increases approved by lawmakers earlier this year.

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