House Speaker Scott Saiki appointed some of the biggest names in Hawaii business to a panel tasked with preparing the state for economic and financial impacts from the novel coronavirus.

The committee plans to have its first public meeting at 10 a.m. Thursday in Room 329 of the State Capitol. Saiki and Peter Ho, president of the Bank of Hawaii, will co-chair the committee.

Speaker of the House Scott Saiki speaks about preparations in the budget for Coronavirus.
A panel of business leaders convened by House Speaker Scott Saiki is one of several steps lawmakers are taking to prepare Hawaii for the effects of COVID-19. Cory Lum/Civil Beat/2020

Besides Saiki and four other House members, other committee members include Mufi Hanneman, president of the Hawaii Lodging and Tourism Association, Peter Ingram, president of Hawaiian Airlines, Nathaniel Kinney, executive director of the Hawaii Construction Alliance, and Lisa Maruyama, president of the Hawaii Alliance of Nonprofit Organizations.

Economists Carl Bonham and Eugene Tian will also serve on the panel along with several state department heads and business executives.

Tian will be providing a look at the potential implications of coronavirus on state revenues at the next Council on Revenues meeting, which is at 10 a.m., Wednesday, at the Princess Ruth Keelikolani Building.

The council, which Bonham serves on, will then discuss and vote on the general fund revenue forecast for the rest of this fiscal year, which ends June 30, and the following years through 2026. The Legislature relies on the forecast as a basis for the overall state budget.

The COVID-19 committee is one measure lawmakers are taking to shore up the state’s finances and economy against any negative side affects from the virus.

Saiki and other lawmakers have said they want to avoid a situation in which they need to make drastic budget cuts as they did during the financial crisis over a decade ago.

Lawmakers also have bills moving through the Legislature that could give the state over $10 million in emergency funding to deal with the virus.

The other committee members include:

  • Rep. Della Au Belatti
  • Rep. Richard Onishi
  • Rep. Kyle Yamashita
  • Rep. Bob McDermott
  • Hawaii Restaurant Association Executive Director Sheryl Matsuoka
  • Hawaii Chamber of Commerce President Sherry Menor-McNamara
  • Labor and Industrial Relations Director Scott Murakami
  • Matson, Inc. Vice President Ku’uhaku Park
  • State epidemiologist Sarah Park
  • Kauai Chamber of Commerce President Mark Perriello
  • Hawaii Visitors and Convention Bureau Executive Director Noelani Schilling-Webster
  • Hawaii Building and Construction Trades Council Executive Director Gino Soquena
  • Hawaii Tourism Authority President Chris Tatum
  • Maui Chamber of Commerce President Pamela Tumpap
  • Retail Merchants of Hawaii President Tina Yamaki
  • Big Island Chamber of Commerce President Miles Yoshioka
  • Budget and Finance Deputy Director Robert Yu
  • Hawaii Food Industry Association Executive Director Lauren Zirbel

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