SAN FRANCISCO — Hawaii Gov. Linda Lingle is proposing to further restructure the state’s debt portfolio as part of a budget revision proposal that is primarily focused on dealing with a continued decline in tax receipts that is threatening to throw the budget out of balance.
“The gap between projected resources and actual appropriations must be closed to satisfy the constitutional requirement of a balanced budget,” Lingle said in her budget message to the Legislature last week.
Hawaii is facing a $1.23 billion budget gap between now and June 30 2011, including $721 million in the current fiscal year, fiscal 2010, and more than $509 million in fiscal 2011, she said.
“We’re going to close that gap in both of those years and have a positive balance at the end of those years,” Lingle said at a press conference to announce the budget proposals.
Hawaii has a two-year budget cycle, but the supplemental budget adjustments are needed for the second year of the cycle to deal with a continuing revenue decline.
Earlier this month, official forecasters at the Council on Revenues predicted Hawaii’s general fund revenue in the current year, fiscal 2010, would be 2.5% below fiscal 2009.
Lingle proposed a variety of spending cuts, revenue increases, revenue shifts, and one-time measures to help close the budget cycle in balance.
Her administration estimates that general fund revenue will not return to pre-recession 2008 levels until fiscal 2012 at the earliest.
The Republican governor’s budget proposals will go to a Legislature that is heavily dominated by Democrats who have shown little inclination to go along with her in the past. Thanks to term limits, Lingle is a lame duck, to boot.
The governor’s proposals include a further restructuring of the state’s debt portfolio, after one implemented this year, to save an additional $18.6 million in the current fiscal year, as well as an additional $75.2 million in fiscal 2011.
“Maybe we push it out, maybe we get a lower rate of interest,” Lingle said at the press conference. “Whatever action we take, it has to have a net savings to the state.”
Lingle said another debt restructuring earlier this year has already saved the state $97.3 million during the current two-year budget period.
Other one-time budget proposals include pushing back payment of $275 million in estimated income tax refunds until after the next fiscal year begins.
“I expect the Legislature will support this,” Lingle said. “There are so few options in [fiscal] 2010.”
The governor is also proposing to suspend transient accommodation tax revenue sharing with county governments “until the state regains its financial footing,” to save about $100 million.
Despite the operating budget challenges, Lingle said she remains committed to the state’s capital improvement plan, though her budget will eliminate all general fund cash financing of capital projects.
Her budget calls for $312 million of new general obligation bonds during the remainder of fiscal 2010, and $550 million more in fiscal 2011.
The budget also calls for more than $1.48 billion of state revenue bonds over the next 18 months, with more than half attributed to the state airport system.