HONOLULU (HawaiiNewsNow) - Lawmakers will have to deal with a huge budget shortfall when the new session starts in two weeks. They just learned that it may take until March to get the governor's full plan on dealing with the deficit.
When Governor Neil Abercrombie unveiled his budget proposal last month, he called it a starting point for discussion. The plan was based on figures from the previous administration, and included an $800-million shortfall through the next two fiscal years. That estimate is expected to decline slightly due to a new forecast of higher revenue growth, but the interim budget and finance director said more time is needed to find ways to balance the budget.
"I think it's typical of what happens in a transition from one administration to the next. There's really not an awful lot of time in terms of a budget," said Kalbert Young.
Lawmakers are concerned about possibly waiting until spring for the governor's full budget proposal.
"That's a very scary time because crossover is about that time so I think we're gonna constantly be on Director Young to give us bits and pieces of information so that we can actually work on the details with him," said Rep. Isaac Choy.
"Not all of them will take till March. We're hopeful that a number of them will actually occur and be submitted well ahead of that time," said Young.
Revenue generating options being considered include adjusting income tax and general excise tax exemptions. Another possibility involves changing user fees for airports and harbors. Some lawmakers are skeptical about the administration's ideas to close the deficit.
"I think that a lot of this is pipe dreaming. They want to end the furloughs, bring everybody back, add new features. I don't know where the money is gonna come from," said Sen. Sam Slom.