Governors gifts toGov. Ben Cayetano and tourism industry leaders hope a new push to bring tourists to Hawaii will restore the local economy, while others are seeing more economic worries.
NYC bear hope of
future isle dividends
Personal income growth in Hawaii
is expected to drop
By Richard Borreca
Local economists yesterday predicted a slowing in the state's annual personal income growth and Republicans in the state House complained that the Legislature has not done enough and should stay in session to deal with the increasing economic downturns.
Cayetano will leave Sunday for New York, where he will be pitching Hawaii to the American Society of Travel Agents annual convention. He is likely to get a good reception because he will be offering free, one-week trips to Hawaii for 1,200 fire, police and rescue workers who helped with the rescue efforts at the World Trade Center.
Hawaiian Airlines will fly 600 rescue workers to Hawaii for a Dec. 3-10 vacation and will then help with 50 more coming every month during 2002, according to Cayetano. The workers, who will be selected by the New York mayor's office, will also have free accommodations while in Hawaii.
Also while in New York, Cayetano is expected to present Rudy Giuliani, mayor of New York City, with a $125,000 check for the NYC Police and Fire Widows and Children's Benefit Fund from the Hawaii Visitors and Convention Bureau.
The governor and first lady Vicky Cayetano will also present handmade paper leis made in Hawaii for 1,000 school children in New York.
All the tourism promotion efforts are likely to be needed, as the state Council on Revenues met yesterday and scaled back the estimates of personal income growth by $2.6 billion this year and next year because of the sharp drops in tourism after the Sept. 11 terrorist attacks in New York and Washington.
Based on the council's new projections, instead of a total personal income of $35.6 billion this year and $37.6 billion next year, it will be $34.9 billion this year and $35.6 billion next year.
The seven-member economic board sets the personal income estimates as part of the state's calculations in how much money can be included in the state budget.
Since the terrorist attacks and the ensuing war in Afghanistan, Hawaii has seen 23,000 workers file for unemployment and the total number of passengers coming to the state from the mainland and Asia has dropped 28 percent.
Republican legislators point to the economic bad news as proof that the special session of the Legislature should not end today as planned, but remain in session to pass new tax breaks and an excise tax holiday.
"It would definitely spur much needed economic activity; legislators are in a position to make it a slightly merrier Christmas for Hawaii families," Rep. Barbara Marumoto (R, Waialae) said.
Other Republicans complained that the legislative session, scheduled to end today, failed to pass their bills to lower taxes in order to help the economy.
Besides the retail excise tax holiday, the GOP wanted the tax on food suspended.
Democratic leaders in the House and Senate, however, said the session is expected to adjourn tonight after final approval of a bill giving Cayetano special emergency powers to deal with the state's economic crisis.
The Associated Press contributed to this report.