Governor's speech focuses on future - Hawaii News Now - KGMB and KHNL

Governor's speech focuses on future

Calvin Say Calvin Say

By Jim Mendoza - bio | email 

HONOLULU (HawaiiNewsNow) - A standing ovation followed her introduction. Then Gov. Linda Lingle launched into her final State of the State address with a sobering reminder.

"It will take many months before our economy begins to rebound and likely years before it returns to its pre-recession strength," she said.

To create jobs she will push a package of incentives that includes helping cover health insurance costs, offering employers income tax credits, and reimbursing companies who hire workers off welfare roles.

"The income tax credit proposal grants credits equal to the wages withheld by the employer for each new, full-time permanent position filled by a resident who is currently receiving unemployment benefits," she said.

To spur building, Lingle proposes a ten percent construction and renovation tax credit for hotels and resorts. She said it has the potential to create 23,000 new jobs.

House Speaker Calvin Say said he's impressed.

"I thought it was very excellent in coming up with some comprehensive plans in trying resolve the economic crisis we are in," he said.

Lingle wants to create what she calls a Fiscal Stabilization Fund by setting aside a percentage of general fund money when tax revenues grow.

"This fund will shield us in future years from the need to raise taxes during periods when the economy is contracting and citizens can least afford to pay more," she said.

The governor also touched on clean energy initiatives like a proposed general excise tax rebate on electric and plug-in hybrid vehicles and plug-in stations.

But the brunt of her 36-minute speech was devoted to getting people back to work.

She has about 300 days left in her term and the clock is ticking.

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