House Committee Created to Address COVID-19 Financial Impacts

March 4, 2020, 9:43 AM HST (Updated March 12, 2020, 6:39 PM)
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As large events cancel due to COVID-19 concerns, Hawai‘i lawmakers plan to address the issue from an economic and financial standpoint.

The House approved the creation of House Committee on COVID-19 Economic and Financial Preparedness. House Speaker Scott K. Saiki introduced Resolution 54, which is meant to bring together representatives from local and state government, private industry, and nonprofit agencies and organizations to report back to the House on steps needed to be prepared for the financial effects of an outbreak.

There are no confirmed cases of the virus in the state. However, officials announced they are running tests on three individuals who are self-monitoring for COVID-19.

According to the resolution, COVID-19 may deeply impact Hawaiʻi’s economy due to the state’s proximity to Asia and reliance on the tourism industry and imported goods.

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Both the Honolulu Festival and the Festival of Pacific Arts & Culture, which bring thousands of participants to the state, have been canceled or postponed due to coronavirus concerns. It has been reported that the Merrie Monarch Hula Festival will continue as planned in April.

The State Department of Business, Economic Development and Tourism has reported a 7.3% drop in international passengers in February and has estimated a loss of more than $23 million in visitor expenditures.

During the 2008 recession, the state government was forced to reduce the school week to four days, cut millions of dollars from social programs, and reduce public employee salaries by 5%.

The committee will identify potential economic and financial impacts to the state and develop short-term and long-term mitigation plans so that these types of cuts can be avoided.

Saiki will appoint the committee’s chair and its members.

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