UPDATED 1/28/11 AT 2:30 P.M.

EDITOR’S NOTE: A previous version of this Fact Check inaccurately reported that the September 2010 projected deficit for the state through fiscal year 2013 was about $400 million. The deficit was projected to be $270 million. The grade of the Fact Check remains true. (Thanks to Civil Beat reader Wayne T for the catch.)

In explaining why tax increases were necessary, Gov. Neil Abercrombie this week told a TV reporter that Hawaii’s projected deficit was substantially less even just a month before he was elected than it is today.

In an interview with KITV’s Mahealani Richardson Jan. 24, the governor said, “Whether inadvertently or not, the projection of the deficit was considerably less at that time.” He was referring to early October, when he issued a 12-page policy document called the “Recovery and Reinvestment Act.”

The latest figures show Hawaii government is expected to run more than $800 million in the red over the next two and a half years.

Is Abercrombie accurate that the deficit was thought to be ‘considerably less’ only a few months before he presented his State of the State Address and proposed five new taxes or fees?

UPDATE

According to a six-year financial plan by former Gov. Linda Lingle‘s administration in September 2010, the deficit through fiscal year 2013 was expected to be less than half of what it is today.

The budget indicates that Lingle’s team thought that in fiscal year 2011 (the current fiscal year), the state would finish with a $38.2 million surplus. The following fiscal year, it was expected Hawaii would have a total deficit of $134.2 million. In fiscal year 2013, the situation would be worse, $270.3 million in the red.

The numbers were calculated using the Council on Revenue’s adjusted state revenue figures from 2011 through 2017, published Sept. 8, 2010.

The projected deficit at the time of Abercrombie’s October comments appeared to be about $270 million.

That’s a ton of money no matter how you slice it. But in the Civil Beat dictionary, a $530 million difference would count as “considerably less”.

The governor was accurate.

Budget1

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Budget2

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