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Wednesday, March 4, 2020
HR 54 Corona Virus: House Select Committee Formed
By News Release @ 12:12 AM :: 5335 Views :: Economy, Hawaii State Government, Health Care


Resolution creates select committee to prepare for economic impacts of virus

News Release from House Democratic Caucus, March 3, 2020

Honolulu, Hawaiʻi – The House today approved House Resolution 54 to create a Select House Committee on COVID-19 Economic and Financial Preparedness.

House Speaker Scott K. Saiki introduced the measure that will 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.

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.

Both the Honolulu Festival and the Festival of Pacific Arts & Culture, which bring thousands of participants to the state, have been cancelled or postponed due to coronavirus concerns.

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

During the recession of 2008, 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 percent.

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.

Speaker Saiki will appoint the committee's chair and its members.

  *   *   *   *   *


Public, private sector group will plan for Hawaiʻi's economic stability as coronavirus infections spread across the globe

News Release from House Democratic Caucus, February 28, 2020

Honolulu, Hawaiʻi – House Speaker Scott K. Saiki today announced that he will introduce a resolution next week to form a Special Committee on COVID-19 Economic and Financial Preparedness which will be asked to identify the potential economic and financial impact to Hawaiʻi from the coronavirus, develop short-term and long-term mitigation plans, and monitor conditions and outcomes.

"Hawaiʻi's Department of Health, Department of Defense and other agencies have been focused on health preparedness," Speaker Saiki said. "But just as importantly, we also need economic and financial preparedness."

Speaker Saiki said with the significant drop in the stock market and with the state's economic dependence on tourism and imported goods, lawmakers must quickly prepare for the growing financial impact on Hawaiʻi.

"The purpose of this committee is to prepare for any impacts that the state may experience. This committee will involve not just the government sector but the private sector, labor unions, and industries that would be impacted," Saiki said.

Speaker Saiki told his colleagues in the House that the World Health Organization has raised its global spread warning of coronavirus or COVID-19 from "high" to "very high." Saiki said the State Department of Business Economic Development and Tourism reported a 7.3 percent drop in international passengers to Hawaiʻi in February and an estimated loss of $23 million in visitor expenditures due to the temporary suspension of flights to and from South Korea.

Saiki said that during the 2008-2009 recession the state was forced to make budget cuts of $2.1 billion over a three-year period.

"The state had to make some drastic decisions such as implementing the Furlough Friday program and reducing the public school week to four days. We need to be prepared for what may happen with coronavirus and how that may affect our state. If we are prepared, we should be in a position to mitigate any impacts that the state may experience from the virus," he said.

The novel coronavirus has killed more than 2,800 people worldwide, the vast majority in mainland China. There have been more than 83,000 global cases, with infections in every continent except Antarctica. No cases of COVID-19 have been identified in Hawaiʻi at this time.


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