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Wednesday, April 6, 2011
April 6, 2011 News Read
By Andrew Walden @ 12:50 PM :: 9999 Views

HB793: Hikes GE Tax 25%, eliminates exemptions, Hearing Wednesday

No New Taxes! Rally April 15--Honolulu, Kona, Hilo, Kahului, Lihue

GE Tax Showdown in Senate—A vote to remember in November

Senate Indian Affairs Committee to vote on Akaka Bill Thursday

Ward: 100s of alternatives to tax hike

House GOP Calls on Abercrombie to Cut Spending

SB570: Hawaii Pension Tax Bill Alive and Well

Recktenwald appoints Acoba Kauai District Court Judge

Hawaii Guard told to prepare for possible deployment

The Hawaii Army National Guard has been notified to prepare its 29th Infantry Brigade Combat Team for possible deployment to Afghanistan in 2013, the Guard announced.

Infantry battalions from Arizona and Guam that are attached to the 29th Brigade are part of the notice, called a “notification of sourcing,” Maj. Gen. Darryll D.M. Wong, state adjutant general, said in a news release yesterday.

The notification of sourcing does not constitute an official “alert,” mobilization or decision to deploy, the release said. The military uses it to notify a unit that it should prepare for a deployment.

HNN: Hawaii soldiers notified about deployment

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Senate Budget demands $650M in new Revenues

The Senate Ways and Means Committee on Tuesday advanced a state operating budget that would cut $654 million from the proposed two-year budget that Gov. Neil Abercrombie wanted.

The Senate approved a revised version of House Bill 200 that calls for $11 billion in spending in fiscal 2012, and $10.9 billion the following year. Of those amounts, $5.4 billion of the 2012 budget would come from the general fund, and $5.5 billion of the 2013 budget would come from general funds. (The Senate draft is not yet available online.)

Ways and Means Chairman David Ige said the cuts will help address the $1.3 billion deficit the state is facing over the next two years.

"This reflects budget reductions exceeding $650 million, which gets us about half way to the deficit facing the committee," Ige said.

The Senate would make up the rest through revenue proposals and tax increases being considered by the House and Senate, and by raiding special funds. Revenue-generating proposals still in play include ending Medicare Part B reimbursements, taxing pension income and an increased alcohol tax.

Public workers will have to chip in, too, Ige said.

The draft assumes labor cost reductions equivalent to the current two-day-a-month furloughs that are set to end June 30.

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Sen. Sees Unions Behind Tax Increase Proposal

Slom said the fact that the excise tax increase would raise about $500 million per year, roughly the equivalent to two state worker furlough days per month, is more than coincidence. He said Senate Democratic leaders are doing the unions' bidding with the excise tax proposal.

Sales Pitch for Tax Hikes: Preventing child abuse is wise investment

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Airlift capacity nearly unchanged

A new air seat capacity forecast released Tuesday by the Hawaii Tourism Authority shows a 0.4 percent drop in the second quarter compared to last year.

"It's a pretty good outlook,” said HTA President and CEO Mike McCartney.  “Our air seats are stable and even though it's a shoulder period and with the decline in Japan, we still have the same number of seats that we did last year.”

According to the HTA forecast 2,299,593 airline seats to Hawaii will be available from April through June. 

Although the number of seats from Japan is expected to drop 10.5 percent as airlines shed flights in the aftermath of the disaster, not included in the HTA report are 25 Japan Airlines charter flights to Hawaii for Golden Week in late April and early May. The special flights for the week-long series of traditional Japanese holidays have a total airlift capacity of about 5,000 seats.

SA: Airline seats to Hawaii seen holding steady this quarter

Still trying to pitch doom n gloom: Hawaii hotels might struggle to repay debt as Japanese travel dips

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McDonald's Hiring 1,000 New Hawaii Employees  (no crisis here)

On April 19, McDonald's will hold a national hiring day. The company wants to add 50,000 new employees, including many in the islands. "In Hawaii, it is a thousand part-time, full time and management positions," said Miles Ichinose, a McDonald's franchisee.

Minimum wage jobs at McDonald's are made more appealing by offering flexible hours and opportunities for advancement.

"Of the managers, about 90 percent of them started as crew members, while 90 percent of the franchisees started as employees," said Ichinose.

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Shapiro: New developments show rail project way off track

The city has granted $1.6 billion in contracts for construction and rail cars with only $600 million in the bank, no commitment on federal funding, the Legislature threatening to raid the rail fund for the state deficit and no updated financial plan telling how the city will pay for inevitable shortfalls.

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Civil Beat catches up to Hawai’i Free Press on Todd Apo Ethics Violations

Asked how the ethics violations might affect his ability to serve in a critical role on the Honolulu Authority for Rapid Transit, Apo said: "I don't think the ethics issues have anything to do with my public service."  (It is the ability to deliver statements like this with a straight face that makes Apo an effective politician.)

Apo told Civil Beat on Monday that while he doesn't know if he's officially one of Mayor Peter Carlisle's three nominees for HART, he'd like to have the unpaid job.

"I can say that I have been approached by various people at the city about serving in the authority," Apo told Civil Beat Monday afternoon. "The rail project was a large part of my six years on the council. I am interested in serving in that capacity."

HFP: Todd Apo and KoOlina: Ethics Violation kept secret since 2007

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Martin: No problem with Garcia’s $60K Side Job

Council members Romy Cachola, Tom Berg, Breene Harimoto and Ann Kobayashi raised concerns or were strongly critical of Garcia. Ernie Martin said he didn't see a problem. Stanley Chang, Ikaika Anderson and Tulsi Gabbard Tamayo were careful not to criticize the chairman while saying they would have disclosed.

Garcia had filed a disclosure form in January, revealing the Kapolei job. He also filed a disclosure on March 24, saying it could create a conflict on a resolution about development in the area. But he hasn't publicly discussed it in meetings where rail was an issue. Garcia has defended his decision to keep the matter private, telling Civil Beat, "Don't tell me I'm a whore."

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Maui Green Police hunt down Bag Ban Violators –impose $1000/day fines

there may be a few businesses that are not following the ordinance that went into effect Jan. 11.

Maui County Recycling Coordinator Hana Steel said the county is investigating reports of seven businesses that might have violated the law.

Steel declined to name the businesses because the investigation is ongoing, but she insisted that the county is serious about enforcing the law, which bans thin plastic, or T-shirt, bags that can easily become airborne and foul the environment.

"We will not hesitate to begin the fining process if necessary," Steel said.

Businesses that do not comply with the ordinance will generally face a warning letter at first. Then, if further noncompliance is found, a notice of violation.

A business not following the law faces a $500 civil fine for each day of violation up to 30 days. The fine escalates to a maximum of $1,000 per day thereafter.

Residents reported the possible violators, and Steel encourages people to remain vigilant.

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Senate Hearing Begins on Board of Education Nominees

The Senate Committee on Education begins confirmation hearings today on the Governor’s nominations to the Board of Education. The first of two hearings takes place this afternoon….  A separate hearing will be held on Friday, April 8, 2011 at 1:15 p.m.

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Bills target isle harbors for private development

A handful of bills (HB 1312) allowing increased privatization of Hawaii’s harbors was kept alive at the Legislature yesterday despite opposition of some boat owners who also worry about separate development proposals to bring wedding chapels to the state’s largest recreational boat harbor.

Plans to resurrect the Ala Wai Small Boat Harbor’s defunct and dilapidated boat repair business, build a training center for the U.S. national kayak team and construct shops, restaurants and two wedding chapels among the harbor’s operations are on a separate track from the harbor bills moving through the Legislature.

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Insurer, hospital agree on new compensation system

The Hawaii Medical Service Association and The Queen's Medical Center said in a joint news release Monday the new system is fundamentally different from systems that primarily pay for the quantity or number of services performed rather than the quality of care.

Instead, HMSA will reward Queen's and its physicians for coordinating care that produces positive health outcomes while controlling costs.

The institutions aim to improve the highest quality of care patients receive and ensure Hawaii's health care system is viable in the long-term.

The agreement is similar to one HMSA reached with Hawaii Health Systems Corp. -- the operator of Hawaii's public hospitals -- earlier this year.

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UH advised to ‘forgive’ debt

The University of Hawaii “should find a way to eliminate or forgive” an accumulated net $9.58 million athletic deficit because “the department may incur a new loss every year due to soaring costs to operate a quality Division I-A athletic program,” according to an operational review by an outside consultant.

The recommendation was contained in a 17-page report compiled by Gary Cunningham, a former athletic director at Wyoming, Fresno State and UC Santa Barbara. Cunningham was commissioned in 2009 by the UH Office of Internal Audit at the request of the state Legislature and paid $10,000 for the report, UH said.

A copy of the report was obtained under the state's open records law.

UH athletics has run at a deficit eight of the past nine years but is pledged to narrowing the gap for the fiscal year that ends June 30, 2011.

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UH-Hilo seeks $36M to build student housing

The University of Hawaii at Hilo has asked the Legislature for $36 million to build more on-campus student housing.

The Hawaii Tribune-Herald reported Tuesday that enrollment at the university has grown 17 percent in the last five years. No on-campus housing has been added since 1989.

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Hawaii County to buy 3000 ac of ‘open space’

The property – which contains numerous historical and cultural sites, precious dryland forest kipukas, an anchialine pond complex, and a mile of ocean frontage – is over 3,000 acres in size.

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Man Who Conned Hawaii Inmates Pleads Guilty

A man who, along with his wife, was accused of bilking Hawaii inmates and their families out of millions of dollars pleaded guilty Tuesday in federal court.

The U.S. attorney's office said Perry Griggs pleaded guilty to one count of mail fraud and one count of wire fraud. The government will dismiss the other 11 counts Griggs faced at his sentencing in July. He faces 40 years in federal prison.

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