Jobless insurance tax hike sees delay
HONOLULU - A tax hike that would have cost Hawaii businesses an estimated $107 million has been put on hold.
The Senate Ways and Means Committee and Judiciary and Labor Committee on Thursday voted for a bill that postpones for one year the increase in the unemployment insurance tax.
The bill earlier passed the state House, and is expected to eventually pass the Senate. Gov. Neil Abercrombie has indicated he will sign it into law.
The increase was scheduled to take effect automatically later this month to replenish the fund that provides jobless benefits. Had it taken effect, businesses that now pay about $720 on average per employee would have seen that rise to $1,020.
No raise in property taxes from Carlisle
HONOLULU - Mayor Peter Carlisle has unveiled a budget proposal that continues across-the-board cost reductions for all city agencies.
The $2 billion spending plan Carlisle presented to the Honolulu City Council this week is 1.5 percent higher than the current year's budget. It does not entirely reflect significant increases in fuel and electricity costs, according to a city press release.
The mayor's budget includes no property tax increases. However, it does continue 5 percent salary reductions in each city agency.
The mayor also suggests adding $20 million to the city's reserve fund to protect Honolulu's bond rating.
Kaiser, HMSA see better bottom lines
HONOLULU - For the quarter ending Dec. 31, Hawaii Medical Services Association reported a net gain of $16.7 million compared to $14.3 million for the same quarter a year earlier.
The state's biggest health insurer raised rates last year an average of 14.8 percent for 77,500 large-employer group members and 3.7 percent for 89,110 small-business members. It also raised rates in January of this year by 3.6 percent for 84,000 members who work at large companies, and plans to soon file for more adjustments for small-business members renewing plans in July.
For the year, HMSA had a net gain of $22.3 million compared to an operating loss of $26.4 million in 2010.
The state's No. 2 insurer also improved its bottom line.
Kaiser Permanente had a fourth-quarter loss of $500,000 compared with a $2.3 million deficit a year previous. Kaiser raised its rates 8.8 percent in January for its estimated 162,000 members. Kaiser finished 2011 with a profit of $4.3 million compared to a loss of $5.1 million the year before.