With latest gloomy economic outlook, lawmakers prepare for a long road to recovery

Published: Sep. 10, 2020 at 9:52 AM HST|Updated: Sep. 10, 2020 at 9:55 AM HST
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HONOLULU, Hawaii (HawaiiNewsNow) - The Hawaii Council on Revenues said tax revenues for the 2021 fiscal year will be down 11% — or about $770 million.

The board also revised its outlook for the 2022 fiscal year, saying the economy will grow by 8%.

That’s lower than the 12% predicted in May.

“The economists believed that this would be a short rebound and it would take two years to bounce back," said state Rep. Sylvia Luke, chair of the House Finance Committee.

“Clearly, what we are seeing is the road to recovery will take about four years.”

Luke said the state could avoid severe cuts this year by borrowing money from the federal government and by taking advantage of the $400 million that the state Legislature set aside in the state’s rainy day fund.

University of Hawaii economist Carl Bonham thinks visitor arrivals will be down about 80% from last year.

And there is no sign of new federal stimulus help.

“We don’t know if we’re going to have the same federal stimulus — all the $2.5 billion in PPP money, all the unemployment benefits, the extra $600 dollars per week," said Kurt Kawafuchi, Council on Revenues chair.

But some on the council are less pessimistic.

“Hopefully the economy reopens so we’re going to get some more tourism dollars, (hotel room) revenue coming in. ... Hopefully the other business that are still able to survive and reopen will be able reopen fully," said Scott Hayashi, a council member.

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