HONOLULU (KHON2) — Only the governor has the power to cut state worker pay and institute furloughs, but Senator Donovan Dela Cruz tells KHON the legislature is also trying to see what they can do to balance state general funding.

“We sent out a memo to all the different departments [of the Ways and Means Committee] asking them to give us cuts in their base. We’re either looking at 16 percent, 25 percent or 35 percent cuts,” said Dela Cruz.

Depending on the department, this could mean possibly hundreds of millions of dollars. On top of this, he said new projects in the committee that need funding would also be cut.

With tourism being the big revenue maker for our economy, Dela Cruz adds we have to be careful on how we return to that.  

“The governor has already spoken to other governors on the west coast, and some of the different types of situations they’re considering are possibly screening or testing prior to departure,” said Dela Cruz. “[What’s needed is] coming up with the identification process, but making sure [people] are safe and secure in their isolation, so it’s not being spread.”

But state Representative Della Belatti believes before turning back to tourism, we need to start small and look toward local revenue sources.

“We’re seeing all of this innovation now in the small manufacturing area, we see these companies that are coming up with their own ventilators… can we build up a small manufacturing base that can be part of an innovative local economy,” said Belatti.

She said she and other house members have been discussing this as well as other ways to bolster the economy via their select committee sessions on COVID-19.

For Dela Cruz, it’s looking at expanding agricultural exports.

“The more value added products that Hawaii can manufacture, the cookies, candies, jams all related to agriculture, we can export that then that’ll help create jobs,” said Dela Cruz.

To hash out all these ideas, lawmakers will have to come together. However, both Belatti and Dela Cruz say they aren’t anticipating a special session at this time.