(BIVN) – Dramatic financial challenges are on the horizon for Hawaiʻi, warns Governor David Ige.
The future fiscal health of the State of Hawaiʻi was a focus of a Monday news conference hosted by Governor Ige. Thanks to a decrease in tax revenue and the end of critical federal funding, the “money is drying up”, Ige said, adding that “everything is on the table,” including potential cuts, in order to balance the budget.
In an effort to slow the spread of COVID-19, the State enacted various social shutdown measures that came with a heavy economic price. More than 200,000 residents lost their jobs and filed for unemployment, the State says.
$4 billion in federal funds helped to keep Hawaiʻi afloat, but that money is now running out. “The Payroll Protection Program funds, that supported thousands of Hawai‘i businesses and kept many employed, started to run out at the end of June,” the office of the Governor reported. “Additionally, those who filed for unemployment who received an additional $600 per week from the federal government will no longer receive the bonus after July 31.”
Hawai‘i will collect $483 million in taxes in June 2020. That compares to the $644 million collected during the same month last year, a 25-percent decrease.
“This is especially bad because as you remember, things were looking great for most of the year before the COVID-19 crisis,” said Governor Ige. “We went from what looked like a record year to a significant loss because of the virus.”
The Council of Revenues forecasts Hawaiʻi will bring in $2.3 billion less in fiscal years 2020-21.
“For that big of a loss, we are looking at all of our options,” Governor Ige said. “Everything is on the table. This includes trying to find more money, and, unfortunately, considering potential cuts. Our planning and decisions will be based on facts and numbers. We are facing a challenging future.”
During Monday’s news conference, the governor said he would keep Hawai‘i residents updated.
“In the short term, tourism may start to recover and help our financial situation,” the governor said. “Looking further out, we are hopeful that a vaccine will be developed that will reduce the impact of the virus. There is a light at the end of the tunnel. We have faced difficult times in the past. But together we have prevailed and emerged stronger as a community.”