Latest Articles

  • Hawaii Could Be $1 Billion in Hole by 2019, GOP Senator Warns

    · By Nathan Eagle

    The state Senate’s sole Republican is waving red flags over the pace of government spending in Hawaii.

    Sen. Sam Slom says the Legislature and new governor will face a big challenge next year because the state is on track to deplete its record $844 million carryover balance by 2016.

    A five-year financial outlook, based on current spending projections, shows the state budget hundreds of millions of dollars in deficit. By 2019, the projected carryover ending balance will be just over $1 billion in the hole, according to Paul Harleman, the Senate Minority Research budget director.

    State Sen. Sam Slom, seen here at a legislative hearing last year, is concerned about the pace of government spending.

    PF Bentley/Civil Beat

    The state by law must have a balanced biennium budget, so that means tough decisions have to be made in the coming year about tapping into the reserves, increasing taxes, cutting services or a combination thereof, Harleman wrote last week in a paper on the budget.

    Democrats recognize the budget dilemma.

    Gov. Neil Abercrombie’s finance director, Kalbert Young, said the state will be challenged for declining ending balances beginning this fiscal year, which started July 1.

    Positive ending balances from previous years, going back to 2012, will help keep the state’s financial ship afloat through 2016. But if revenues come in as forecast, Young said, “there would have to be significant fiscal constraint measures in play this fiscal year to preserve those positive ending balances through FY16.”

    He

  • Hawaii Takes a $100 Million-Plus Hit as Council Downgrades Revenue Forecast

    · By Nathan Eagle

    The state will have more than $100 million less than expected to fund government programs and pay public workers over the next year, based on the Hawaii Council on Revenues’ latest forecast.

    The seven members had projected 5.5 percent growth for fiscal 2015, which started July 1, but they downgraded their general fund revenue forecast to 3.5 percent after a lengthy discussion Thursday. The governor’s office and Legislature rely on the estimates to prepare the state’s overall $12 billion operating budget.

    It was the fifth quarterly meeting in a row that the council has downgraded its revenue forecast. Some members suspect they will be downgrading it again at their next meeting in December.

    Hawaii Council on Revenues Chair Kurt Kawafuchi, with pen at right, takes notes as his fellow council members listen during their meeting Thursday.

    Nathan Eagle/Civil Beat

    Council Vice Chair Marilyn Niwao voted in favor of the new forecast, but said earlier in the meeting that she sees revenue growth for 2015 coming in closer to 2 percent. Unlike other members, she anticipates a bigger effect on the local economy from geopolitical events, such as the ISIS actions and other terrorist turmoil in the Middle East.

    Council member Carl Bonham doesn’t see world events having as much of an effect on Hawaii’s tax collections as Niwao does. 

    He doesn’t see the economy growing “gangbusters,” but expects revenues to increase about 5 percent this year.

    Council Chair Kurt Kawafuchi noted after the meeting that despite

  • Is Hawaii Really Doing So Well? Fact-Checking the Governor’s Speech

    · By Anita Hofschneider

    Gov. Neil Abercrombie painted the state in a rosy light during the State of the State, boosting his re-election campaign.

  • Caldwell to Hawaii Legislature: Where’s My Money? I Want it Now

    · By Nick Grube

    Honolulu mayor lays out his 2013 legislative proposals, which include protecting rail funding and getting more tourism dollars.

  • Yellow Light: Caution When You File Your State Taxes

    · By Lowell Kalapa

    A funny thing happened on the way to doing state income taxes this year that could get some taxpayers in trouble.

  • State Bank Concept Takes Hold in Hawaii

    · By Rev. Sam Domingo

    There are ways we could be doing more to protect and build our assets.

  • Hawaii Finalizing $50M in ‘Restructuring’ Cuts

    · By Nanea Kalani

    State working toward Aug. 9 target to implement budget cuts.

  • Hawaii Spending Growing at Nearly Four Times National Average

    · By Nanea Kalani

    Only four states projected larger percentage budget growths for 2012.

  • Hawaii Gov Reveals Plan for $50 Million in Cuts

    · By Nanea Kalani

    UPDATED Abercrombie outlines process to reach savings called for by Legislature.

  • Attorneys, CPAs and Bank Execs Named to Hawaii Tax Review Commission

    · By Nanea Kalani

    All seven members named to commission, group could start work in July.

  • Hawaii Tax Collections Could Best Forecast

    · By Nanea Kalani

    Last year’s delayed tax refunds still dragging down collections.

  • Restoring Furloughs To Cost State of Hawaii More Than $160 Million

    · By Nanea Kalani

    Impact would be $251 million without anticipated contract concessions.

  • Hawaii Tax Director Finds Unusual, Inconsistent Revenue Reports

    · By Nanea Kalani

    Department calls for independent audit of its reports.

  • Abercrombie: Special Session Unlikely, Revenues Forecast Unchanged

    · By Nanea Kalani

    UPDATED 5 p.m. Council on Revenues keeps negative 1.6 percent revenue forecast.

  • Analysis: Budgets Swell for All but Two Hawaii Depts.

    · By Nanea Kalani

    Updated 5/18/11 4:15 p.m. Eliminating furloughs contributes to budget growth.