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Special session on tap if economy dips

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After concluding a grueling legislative session of tax raising and budget cutting, Hawaii lawmakers might still have more work to do.

Gov. Neil Abercrombie will call them back to the Capitol for a special session if the state’s economic forecast significantly worsens this month.

That would also give lawmakers an opportunity to take care of important business they left unfinished: spending $2.3 million for security at this fall’s Asia-Pacific Economic Cooperation meeting, paying $2.7 million for legal settlements and appropriating about $4 million to the University of Hawaii medical school.

These measures appeared to have enough support to become law, but they were left to rot on the Legislature’s bargaining table amid tense negotiations between House and Senate leaders. Only a handful of bills, mostly raising money instead of spending it, survived end-of-session wrangling.

A special legislative session would be warranted if the Council on Revenues lowers on May 26 its revenue growth prediction for the current fiscal year from negative 1.6 percent to negative 3 percent or worse, said Abercrombie spokeswoman Donalyn Dela Cruz.

"We won’t come back unless there’s this fiscal emergency," she said.

It’s unclear whether tax collections will be sufficient to sustain government spending before the fiscal year ends June 30. Collections surged in April, but they were still off by 2.3 percent through the first 10 months of the fiscal year, according to the Department of Taxation.

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