Taxes, tourism help bring positive balance to state

Published: Jul. 19, 2012 at 10:54 PM HST|Updated: Jul. 20, 2012 at 3:21 AM HST
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Governor Neil Abercrombie
Governor Neil Abercrombie
Kalbert Young
Kalbert Young

HONOLULU (HawaiiNewsNow) - Hope and optimism were words used repeatedly today when talking about Hawaii's economy.  This as the Governor Neil Abercrombie announced the state has an extra $306 million to work with.

"We're in the second quarter now," said Governor Abercrombie.

Sticking with his football analogy Governor Abercrombie said his administration is heading toward halftime with momentum.  He announced fiscal year 2012 finished with $306 million more than projected.

"These numbers are real. There is no more playing accounting tricks when we give you these numbers they are solid numbers," said Governor Abercrombie. "We have fiscal control over where we are going, we are serious, we are sober and we're very happy with the work our administration has been doing."

"It's a good thing in the sense it is a positive balance as opposed to finishing in the negative or in the red," said Kalbert Young, State Budget and Finance Director.

The administration attributes the gains to collecting $127 million more in taxes than projected.  The state brought in nearly 15 percent more in taxes than last year.

Bumps in tourism and capital improvement construction projects also brought in more money.  Savings also came in the way of state salary reductions and from streamlining the accounting system.

"When we came into office at one point Fred (Pablo, Taxation Director) and Kalbert (Young, Finance Director) came to see me and said Governor we have no clue as to how much money is coming in. And we have no clue as to how much money is going out. We're not even sure we can pay the bills at the end of the month," said Governor Abercrombie, referring to when the state had to borrow money from the Hurricane Fund and Rainy Day Fund just to pay the bills.

The added money means the state could hire back inspectors with the agriculture, health and land and natural resources departments, which were decimated in recent years.

But the administration also warns the $300 million is not going to solve all the economic problems.

"There is some temperance there though because we have a lot of programs and expenditure needs that are yet to be met.  The state is by no means in a financial condition of where it was at its peak condition and we are definitely not at a position where we have fully restored all of what we consider critical services of government," said Young. "We should all as Hawaii residents and taxpayers feel very happy, satisfied and confident in terms of where we have gotten the state thus far but know the obligations and requirements of the state in the future are far more expansive than where we currently are."

Meanwhile the Council on Revenues will meet again next month and the projections for 2013 are expected to be adjusted.

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