Hawaii officials will have millions of dollars less than expected to run state government services over the next several years if the Council on Revenues’ latest fiscal forecast holds true.

The council on Monday sent Gov. [[Neil Abercrombie]] its latest report dropping its forecast for growth in state general fund tax revenues in 2014 from zero to minus 0.4 percent. The forecast for 2015 to 2020 remained unchanged, calling from 5 percent to 6.2 percent growth each year.

The lowered forecast, which the state relies on for budgeting, translates to almost $22 million less than expected for fiscal 2014, which ends June 30, and roughly $25 million less in each of the following six years.

Council on Revenues Carl Bonham

Hawaii Council on Revenues member Carl Bonham reviews financial numbers during the March 11, 2014, meeting at the Princess Ruth Keelikolani Building.

PF Bentley/Civil Beat

General fund tax revenues are expected to come in at $5.45 billion in 2014, steadily rising to $7.53 billion in 2020, according to the council’s latest projections.

While $22 million may not seem like a huge slice of that pie, it is significant in a state that has far more demand for programs and capital improvements than it has money. The state has struggled to come up with the resources for environmental protection initiatives, an early childhood education program, repairs to aging infrastructure and reforms of its prison and hospital systems.

Plus, Hawaii is billions of dollars behind in funding its public worker pension system and other post-employment benefits for retirees. Paying down that debt means less money for other services.

The council, which approved the changes at its quarterly meeting Thursday, blamed the lowered revenue forecast in part on visitors spending less money and the effects of federal budget cuts.

It was the third consecutive time the council has dropped its revenue prediction. The last time was in March when the council reduced its expectation of 3.3 percent growth in 2014 down to zero, leaving lawmakers with $180.4 million less revenue as they were in the midst of working on the state budget.

The governor and Legislature relied on a record $844 million carryover balance from 2013 to balance the biennium budget. But with that surplus quickly evaporating and spending outpacing revenues in the foreseeable future, state officials will have to make tougher decisions to keep the state in the black.

Read the council’s full report to the governor here:

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