Let's be thankful 2009 is almost over


POSTED: Wednesday, November 25, 2009

What can you say about a year that starts and ends with economists and politicians all saying, “;We haven't hit bottom yet”;?

So far 2009 has been the sort of year that we can be thankful when it ends; 2010 has got to be better.

The economic forecast this year will make the strong shiver. After saving money, cutting costs, lopping off programs, laying off workers and furloughing the rest, the state is still estimating that it needs to find an additional $162 million for this fiscal year and then $107 million for 2011.

There are plans forming to solve this, but don't start shouting for joy just yet.

As with all things in local politics, things start out simple and just go downhill. Hawaii's economic crisis proves that we are just going to have to struggle a bit longer.

How does another $600 million sound? You want it, you don't mind a little pain in the wallet, do you?

During the last legislative session, House Speaker Calvin Say came up with a list of bills to change Hawaii's tax law, netting an extra $600 million. Of course, it would be the taxpayers in various income levels who would be losing that $600 million that the state would be getting.

For instance, Say proposed reducing temporarily tax credits and also suspending the use of carryover tax credits; his office calculates that as being worth $155 million.

Lifting the exemptions to the general excise tax could bring in $60 million more.

If we forget about income tax credits recently enacted, the state can take in $73 million more than that. There's an additional $25 million waiting if Hawaii increases the premium tax on mutual benefit societies and HMOs; that means taxing Kaiser and the Hawaii Medical Services Association.

Finally, there is also a proposal to take the tourist tax money away from the counties, which would give the state $99 million.

Say's office stresses that all those proposals were left over from the last session and they are not the proposals that he will be introducing come January, but Say is also not just sitting back and waiting for more bad news to hit.

In governmentese, Say's office reports that the veteran House leader is considering a series of revenue enhancement/expenditure reduction bills.

While that may not make you more thankful, the alternative next year may be a state government issuing IOUs instead of paychecks.