Civil Beat Topics

Council on Revenues

The Council on Revenues influences how the state of Hawaii spends its money.

The nonpartisan, unpaid group of seven economists and business executives provides long- and short-term forecasts of the state’s economy. By law, what the group estimates has to be considered by the governor and lawmakers in determining state expenditures, enacting any revenue-related legislation, and preparing the state’s budget.

The group prepares forecasts on state revenues for each fiscal year as well as quarterly estimates that include all taxes and income owed to the state. Its revenue estimates and any revisions are reported every June 1, September 10, January 10, and March 15 to the governor and Legislature.

Overview

In addition to tax revenue, the council also estimates total personal income, a factor in computing the state general fund expenditure ceiling. The figure has averaged around $53 billion in recent years. The income estimates and any revisions are reported twice a year — on August 5 and November 5 — to the governor, Legislature, director of the state Department of Budget and Finance, and Chief Justice of the Hawaii Supreme Court.

The group is comprised of seven unpaid volunteers. While it is administratively attached to the state Department of Taxation, the council is an independent body. The Tax Department’s research and planning branch provides the council with raw data and acts as a support staff. Of the seven members, three are appointed by the governor for four-year terms, and two each are appointed by the Speaker of the House of Representatives and the Senate President for two-year terms.

The Council meets prior to the due dates of its six annual reports, but is not required to comply with the law on open meetings for public agencies when confidential tax information is discussed. However, all forecasts submitted to the governor and Legislature are made public.

History

The Council on Revenues was born out of the historic 1978 Hawaii State Constitutional Convention, where major changes were made to the state constitution. The idea behind the council’s formation was to help ensure that the Legislature does not spend money it doesn’t have.

Only one other state has a budget that is tied to forecasts by an independent panel, according to the National Conference of State Legislatures.

For the most part, a state’s governor and lawmakers make separate projections and then negotiate a budget, according to the nonprofit group. Only South Carolina has a group similar to the Hawaii Council on Revenues: a four-member Board of Economic Advisors established in the 1970s as the “chief economic advisor and general economic consultant to the state.” The South Carolina advisory group is required by state law to provide revenue impacts to lawmakers for proposed legislation, and also performs revenue forecasting and evaluation of revenues for state programs.

Increase In Hawaii Revenue Forecast ‘Doesn’t Really Amount To That Much’ Chad Blair/Ciivl Beat

Increase In Hawaii Revenue Forecast ‘Doesn’t Really Amount To That Much’

The expected increase amounts to about $40 million more for the state budget, not enough to assuage the concerns of the Legislature’s budget chairs.

More Money for 2016, But Hawaii’s Fiscal Forecast Less Certain Later Cory Lum/Civil Beat

More Money for 2016, But Hawaii’s Fiscal Forecast Less Certain Later

The Council on Revenues upgraded its general-fund growth projections for the current fiscal year, but predicts the fund will be less than anticipated in the next five years.

Hawaii Lawmakers Cautious Despite Rosier Economic Outlook Cory Lum/Civil Beat

Hawaii Lawmakers Cautious Despite Rosier Economic Outlook

Revenue projections are up almost $200 million over the next two years, but the state is still spending more than it takes in.

Tax Collections Lower Than Expected, But Governor Remains Positive PF Bentley/Civil Beat

Tax Collections Lower Than Expected, But Governor Remains Positive

Hawaii Council on Revenues forecasts economic growth for next five years.

State Panel Projects No Revenue Growth for Hawaii in 2014

State Panel Projects No Revenue Growth for Hawaii in 2014

Council on Revenues downgrades forecast, leaving lawmakers with almost $1 billion less than expected.
With Economy Improving, Council on Revenues Upgrades Forecast

With Economy Improving, Council on Revenues Upgrades Forecast

Higher projection creates cushion for Hawaii lawmakers finalizing budget plan.
Abercrombie’s Bigger Budget Still Doable With Lowered Revenue Forecast

Abercrombie’s Bigger Budget Still Doable With Lowered Revenue Forecast

Budget director says still no need for new taxes for 2012-2013 budget years.
Council On Revenues Downgrades Hawaii Forecast

Council On Revenues Downgrades Hawaii Forecast

UPDATED Some council members think the new 11 percent revenue growth projection is still too optimistic.

Can Legalized Gaming Fill Hawaii’s Budget Hole?

Gaming is not a tax, but it has tax implications: it will require additional public programs.
Hawaii Sees ‘Optimistic Financial Picture’ Ahead

Hawaii Sees ‘Optimistic Financial Picture’ Ahead

Deputy budget chief cites tax revenue growth, proceeds from billion-dollar bond sale.
New Tax Laws Boost Hawaii Revenue Forecast to 14.5%

New Tax Laws Boost Hawaii Revenue Forecast to 14.5%

Hawaii Council on Revenues upgrades its revenue forecast for the state's general fund.

Hawaii Tax Collections Could Best Forecast

Last year's delayed tax refunds still dragging down collections.

January 2016

Thursday, January 7

Increase In Hawaii Revenue Forecast ‘Doesn’t Really Amount To That Much’

September 2015

Thursday, September 3

More Money for 2016, But Hawaii’s Fiscal Forecast Less Certain Later

March 2015

Thursday, March 12

Hawaii Lawmakers Cautious Despite Rosier Economic Outlook

August 2014

Friday, August 1

Tax Collections Lower Than Expected, But Governor Remains Positive

March 2014

Wednesday, March 12

State Panel Projects No Revenue Growth for Hawaii in 2014

March 2012

Wednesday, March 7

With Economy Improving, Council on Revenues Upgrades Forecast

January 2012

Tuesday, January 10

Abercrombie’s Bigger Budget Still Doable With Lowered Revenue Forecast

Friday, January 6

Council On Revenues Downgrades Hawaii Forecast

December 2011

Friday, December 16

Can Legalized Gaming Fill Hawaii’s Budget Hole?

Wednesday, December 14

Hawaii Sees ‘Optimistic Financial Picture’ Ahead

September 2011

Tuesday, September 6

New Tax Laws Boost Hawaii Revenue Forecast to 14.5%

June 2011

Tuesday, June 14

Hawaii Tax Collections Could Best Forecast

May 2011

Thursday, May 26

Abercrombie: Special Session Unlikely, Revenues Forecast Unchanged

March 2011

Tuesday, March 29

Hawaii Lowers Revenue Forecast to -1.6 Percent

Thursday, March 24

Hawaii’s New Budget Deficit: $1.3 Billion

Tuesday, March 22

Council on Revenues: Rosy Growth Rate A Red Herring

Saturday, March 19

Senate Money Chairman: Hawaii House Budget ‘No Longer Valid’

Thursday, March 17

Hawaii Council on Revenues Can’t Regroup for Another Month

Friday, March 11

Bad News: Hawaii’s Budget Gap Nears $1 Billion

January 2011

Wednesday, January 19

Will Hawaii Learn the Great Recession?

Tuesday, January 4

Hawaii Budget Hearings: Council on Revenues

December 2010

Thursday, December 30

Council on Revenues to Change Reports Because of ‘Media Confusion’

Council on Revenues Projects $44M Revenue Boost This Year

Wednesday, December 8

Civil Beat Analysis: City’s Rail Tax Plan Optimistic

October 2010

Friday, October 8

COR, UHERO and the Fed

September 2010

Saturday, September 25

A New Year’s Without Fireworks in Honolulu?

August 2010

Wednesday, August 18

State Violates Balanced-Budget Requirement

Tuesday, August 3

Discussion: State Budget

Sunday, August 1

State Pays a Price for Faulty Economic Forecasts

Council on Revenues