Editorial: Budget woes will trim government

Editorial: Budget woes will trim government

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Hawaii, blessed as it is with year-round summer, is about to enter a wintry fiscal deep-freeze.

At the state and county budget offices, anticipated revenues are being projected at well below average levels. At Honolulu Hale, the current figures show an expected shortfall topping $400 million, a jaw-dropping figure.

It’s reached the point at which elected officials openly acknowledge that the budgetary axe is coming down, and that smaller government will certainly be the result.

Furloughs to reduce the largest cost center, labor expenses, are on the horizon, and a near horizon, at that.

But beyond the necessary across-the-board pay reductions, elected leaders and their staff — including that of Mayor-elect Rick Blangiardi — will be pressed to rethink how services could be delivered with the greatest efficiency and the least waste. Ideally, the incoming mayor would address his tense constituency and begin to outline his own financial plan.

In October, Gov. David Ige telegraphed the sobering forecast that tax receipts supporting state programs are 25% below where they need to be to support current government services.

“We have an annual budget deficit that we’re looking at between $1.3 and $1.5 billion every year,” Ige said at the time, “and clearly that’s not sustainable. So we are going to have to reduce the size of state government.”

That’s the undeniable imperative, and taxpayers are going to have to expect some curbs on services, for the foreseeable future.

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