Hawaii House Speaker names panel on virus’ economic effects

HONOLULU — Hawaii House Speaker Scott Saiki on Monday said he has appointed 25 people plus himself to serve on a committee that will advise House members on the potential financial and economic fallout of the new coronavirus.

The members include University of Hawaii economist Carl Bonham as well as business leaders like Hawaiian Airlines CEO Peter Ingram and Matson Vice President Kuuhaku Park. Representing construction unions will be Hawaii Building & Construction Trades Council Executive Director Gino Soquena.

Also serving will be Dr. Sarah Park, the state epidemiologist, and four other members of the House of Representatives.

Saiki has said he wanted to form the advisory committee to prepare lawmakers in case they will need to cut spending if tax revenue drops. He said he wanted to avoid a repeat of last recession when the state had to slash $2.1 billion from state budgets over a three-year period, leading to furloughs and a four-day week for public school students.

Saiki has said the committee would need to make initial recommendations before the Legislature adjourns on May 7.

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