10 Mar 2011

State House and Senate lawkers in Hawaii look at options to generate revenue

11:59 am on 10 March 2011

State House and Senate lawmakers in Hawaii advanced a menu of tax options yesterday to generate revenue to help balance the budget.

Approaching the midway point of their 60-day session, lawmakers exchanged dozens of bills between chambers to meet a procedural deadline tomorrow, including several that would raise taxes and restrict tax exemptions and credits.

The revenue options could be used with the savings from expected cuts to state spending to help close a projected two-year budget deficit of 700 million US dollars.

The alternatives that have emerged so far at the Legislature are substantially different from the deficit-reduction plan outlined by Governor Neil Abercrombie.

But, like the governor, lawmakers believe a combination of new revenue, state spending cuts and labor savings in contract talks with public-sector labor unions will be necessary to reduce the deficit.

The Honolulu Star Advertiser reports the Council on Revenues is expected to update its revenue forecast tomorrow so lawmakers will have a better deficit estimate as they complete their budget drafts in the coming weeks.