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Lingle addresses business leaders at ‘Top 250’

MEDIA RELEASE

As residents and businesses across the state are finding innovative ways to cope with today’s economic challenges, Gov. Linda Lingle highlighted her Administration’s efforts to improve Hawaii’s economy with business leaders at the Hawaii Business Magazine Top 250 Luncheon as well as the Honolulu Association of Insurance Professionals monthly luncheon.

Gov. Linda Lingle addresses business leaders during the Hawaii Business Magazine Top 250 luncheon. (Photo courtesy of The Governor's Office)

Gov. Linda Lingle addresses business leaders during the Hawaii Business Magazine Top 250 luncheon. (Photo courtesy of The Governor's Office)

“Since March 2008, the Council on Revenues has lowered projections seven of the last eight times it has convened, for a total of $3 billion,” Lingle told the insurance professionals. “Despite $2 billion in spending cuts, we are still facing a shortfall of nearly $1 billion.”

Since last summer, the Lingle-Aiona Administration has taken steps to address the lower projected revenues, which included restricting state general fund discretionary spending by 8 percent; putting a freeze on hiring, travel and purchases of new equipment; restructuring the state’s long-term debt and debt payments; transferring excess balances from certain special funds into the general fund; and utilizing federal stimulus funds.

The governor also spoke of labor union negotiations and said her team is in meetings with public union leaders to try to negotiate a settlement. 

“I think the quicker that they face the reality, the sooner we can get this resolved,” she said.

“In a crisis, as you all know and as you have been finding out over these past couple of years, there are great opportunities,” the governor told business leaders, explaining that the state now has an opportunity to prioritize our actions and put what’s most important first, in particular, the economy, energy security and education.

“The economic climate also forces everyone to reflect on consequences to our actions, or inability to act,” Lingle continued.

The governor called on business leaders to speak out on behalf of projects that will improve the quality of life for residents across the state, asking “If you’re not for something, what are you for?”

Citing the Big Island’s Thirty Meter Telescope as an example of a project that she and the community were for, the governor said, “It will make a difference for children – not today but in the future and that’s what those of us in public office are supposed to be looking out for.”

“Yes, we have to balance the budget, absolutely we do; but what about for tomorrow? What about for the kids to come? Being for something is so much more empowering and it feels so much better, and the result of being for something is good and positive.”

“A failure to focus on our priorities now, to recognize that actions have consequence and to advocate for those things we are for, will mean that we have learned nothing from this current crisis and we will have lost a very valuable opportunity. Let’s work together to make certain that we come out of this crisis stronger and smarter than we were when it started.”

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