Friday, January 11, 2008

Council on Revenues briefs Money Committees

Top left to right: Sen. Roz Baker, and Reps Marcus Oshiro, Marilyn Lee and Mike Magaoay

Bottom left to right: Reps Karen Awana, Tom Brower, James Kunane Tokioka, Roland Sagum
After introductions of the members of the committees (House Finance and Senate Ways and Means), the chairs turned it over to Paul Brewbaker, the chair of the Council on Revenues. Brewbaker is the senior vp and chief economist at the Bank of Hawaii.

In addition to reviewing the recent projection from Wednesday, Brewbaker summarized that the economy is softening, based on facts such as visitor arrivals are down, building permits are down, and the consumer inflation rate is subsiding. That leaves Hawaii with "increased vulnerability to global shocks that come out of the blue."

Pearl Imada Iboshi, State economist with the Department of Business, Economic Development & Tourism, stated that Hawaii growth rates are slowing, but they continue to be higher than the U.S. growth rates. Personal income and job growth rates are expected to maintain stability over the next few years. However, there is concern with the visitor industry growth, especially in the cruise industry.

Carl Bonham, Exec. director of UHERO, UH Economic Research Org., gave an economic forecast. He stated that developers are being squeezed from the bottom. In the commercial sector, "plans don't pencil out. You can't get the rent that will cover the cost of construction." As a result there is a slowing in permitting for both commercial and residential construction. Regarding home prices, speculators are gone. Visitor expenditures are largely from US visitors, but that is also where there is the most risk with the possible recession in the US economy.

Photo: Carl Bonham at the podium, Pearl Imada Iboshi at front, Paul Brewbaker seated in back (wringing hands?)

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