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Lingle credits private sector for isles’ economic rebound

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Gov. Linda Lingle said she will leave office this December with a Hawaii that is on the path to recovery and a stronger future.

Lingle, who gave the keynote address yesterday at the Hawaii Economic Association’s annual conference, said prudent fiscal management, the creativity of the private sector, the success of the Hawaii Tourism Authority and the use of targeted federal funds to expand energy got the state through economic woes.

Actual expenditures were below actual revenues when the state closed its books on June 30, Lingle said.

"What we spent was less than what we took in, and that was quite a feat after having to make up that $3 billion gap over a two-year period," she said.

Lingle said her administration made "tough decisions" that included cutting 14 percent of the general fund, instituting a hiring freeze, curtailing unnecessary travel and spending, furloughing employees and eliminating the most state jobs in state history. The state also sought to improve the budget by cracking down on tax collections, shoring up tourism, growing the film industry and building the clean-energy sector, she said.

Since 2008 the state collected about $100 million in unpaid taxes, Lingle said.

State unemployment has dropped to 6.4 percent, and 2,000 jobs were created between August 2009 and August 2010, she said.

Jobs were created through Hawaii Premium Plus, which subsidizes employer health care costs, and through the airports, harbors and highways modernization plans, Lingle said.

Despite earlier job cuts to the state film office, she said that industry is on track for a record $400 million year. "Hawaii Five-0," which has become the No. 1 network television show, will create jobs and circulate some $60 million throughout Hawaii during its first year, Lingle said.

The opening of the Aulani, a Disney Resort & Spa, in Ko Olina next fall will bring 1,500 jobs to West Oahu, she said.

 

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