161,000 HAWAII WORKERS FALLING OFF AT MIDNIGHT?
Is UHERO’s Bonham Bluffing? Crying Wolf? Or are Hawaii’s Leader’s Asleep?
House Republican Gene Ward Warns of “Unemployment Cliff” Looming at Midnight Tonight
News Release from Office of Rep Gene Ward, (R-Hawaii Kai) July 31, 2020
HONOLULU—"At the stroke of midnight tonight (July 31) there will be over 161,000 Hawaii residents about to fall off the federal unemployment cliff and there appears to be no solution at hand. Congress is equivocating and the Governor vetoed the Legislature’s suggestion for a small replacement in UI benefits, schools aren’t sure to open, bars may close, and tourism is twisting in the wind, so there appears to be no real solution in sight” says Representative Gene Ward (R-17 Hawaii Kai, Kalama Valley) on eve of the cliff hanger.
Following the UHERO report by Professor Carl Bonham and the Council of Revenues’ projected forecast that incomes will drop, tourism will barely start up and the ending of the “plus up” of $2,400 per month of federal UI benefits by August 1, Ward felt compelled to speak out to the leaders of Hawaii and issue a warning to the people of Hawaii to get ready for a hard landing.
“I think we have kicked the can down the road fearing more for our public health than our economic health because we always assumed the federal government was going to save us. So, in the short run, the government will continue to run our economy, that is until it runs out of money, or can borrow no more, and then what? Basically, we don’t know,” Ward said, “unless we open up the economy.”
“The problem is we haven’t been good at walking and chewing gum at the same time. We need to focus on people’s lives as well as their livelihoods, and the government doesn’t have enough money to keep postponing decisions on how to flatten the poverty curve that is about to spike when the UI support dwindles or ceases.
“Likewise, our State’s $2-3 billion deficit is still an unreal number to most people, and no one seems to be too worried about it. We’re in the quiet before the storm and we’re basically behaving pretty calmly before falling off a cliff. But, if and when our numbers reach over 200,000 workers on the bench in the next few weeks without paychecks big enough to pay the rent and put food on the table, there will be an hue and cry never before heard in Hawaii,” Ward observed.
“Bottom line, there is a fiscal crisis ahead of us and we are not prepared to face it,” he concluded.