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Tax Credit Incentives for Residential Solar Photovoltaic in Hawai‘i

Solar photovoltaic (PV) tax credits are at the center of a public debate in Hawai‘i. The controversy stems largely from unforeseen budgetary impacts, driven in part by the difference between the legislative intent and implementation of the PV tax credits. HRS 235-12.5 allows individual and corporate taxpayers to claim a 35% tax credit against Hawaii state individual or corporate net income tax for eligible renewable energy technology, including PV. The policy imposes a $5,000 cap per system, and excess credit amounts can be carried forward to future tax years. Because the law did not clearly define what constitutes a system or restrict the number of systems per roof, homeowners have claimed tax credits for multiple systems on a single property. In an attempt to address this issue, in November 2012, temporary administrative rules define a PV system as an installation with output capacity of at least 5 kW for a single-family residential property. The new rule does not constrain the total number of systems per roof, but rather defines system size and permits tax credits for no more than one sub-5 kW system. In other words, it is possible to install multiple 5 kW systems and claim credits capped at $5,000 for each system. There is an additional 30% tax credit for PV capital costs at the federal level. There is no cap for the federal tax credit and excess credits can be rolled over to subsequent years.


The Impact of Same-Sex Marriage on Hawai‘i’s Economy and Government

This report provides quantitative and qualitative measures of the impact of same-sex marriage on Hawai`i’s economy and government. We find that marriage equality is likely to lead to substantial increases in visitor arrivals, visitor spending, and state and county general excise tax revenues. We estimate that fewer than 100 spouses will be added as beneficiaries to public and private employer-provided health insurance plans. The size of the gains from marriage equality depends critically on upcoming rulings by the U.S. Supreme Court on the constitutionality of California’s Proposition 8 and the Defense of Marriage Act.  




Carl Bonham on Insights on PBS Hawaii: Fiscal Cliff

Posted February 4, 2013 | Categories: Media

UHERO Executive Director and Professor of Economics Carl Bonham goes on Insights on PBS Hawaii with host Dan Boylan and other guests. The group discusses the impacts of the federal "fiscal cliff" on Hawai'i's economy, as well as the state's plans to address government spending and encourage revenue growth.




A dynamic approach to PES pricing and finance for interlinked ecosystem services: Watershed conservation and groundwater management

A theory of payment for ecosystem services (PES) pricing consistent with dynamic efficiency and sustainable income requires optimized shadow prices. Since ecosystem services are generally interdependent, this requires joint optimization across multiple resource stocks. We develop such a theory in the context of watershed conservation and groundwater extraction. The optimal program can be implemented with a decentralized system of ecosystem payments to private watershed landowners, financed by efficiency prices of groundwater set by a public utility. The theory is extended to cases where land is publicly owned, conservation instruments exhibit non-convexities on private land, or the size of a conservation project is exogenous. In these cases, conservation investment can be financed from benefit taxation of groundwater consumers. While volumetric conservation surcharges induce inefficient water use, a dynamic lump-sum tax finances investment without distorting incentives. Since the optimal level of conservation is generated as long as payments are correct at the margin, any surplus can be returned to consumers through appropriate block pricing. The present value gain in consumer surplus generated by the conservation-induced reduction in groundwater scarcity serves as a lower bound to the benefits of conservation without explicit measurement of other benefits such as recreation, biodiversity, and cultural values.


Published Version: Roumasset, J., Wada, C.A., 2013. A dynamic approach to PES pricing and finance of interlinked ecosystem services: Watershed conservation and groundwater management. Ecological Economics. 87, 24-33.




The Contribution of the University of Hawai‘i at Manoa to Hawai‘i’s Economy in 2012

The University of Hawai‘i at Mānoa (UHM) generates economic activity through its purchases from local businesses, its payment to its employees, and spending by students and visitors. This report estimates UHM’s total economic activity in the state of Hawai‘i in fiscal year 2012. Following a standard approach, we define economic impact to be the direct, indirect, and induced economic activities generated by the university’s spending in the state economy.

Although one can think of the UHM as if it were one of many businesses or industries in Hawai‘i, an important difference between UHM and most private businesses is that UHM gets a substantial part of its funding from taxpayers. In FY2012, UHM and the supporting RCUH (Research Corporation of the University of Hawai‘i) spent a total of $878 million in support of its education mission; the State General Fund paid $198 million of the total. Adding money spent by the privately funded UH Foundation, spending by students, out-of-town visitor spending related to UHM sponsored professional meetings and conferences brings total UHM-related expenditures to $1.40 billion in FY2012, 90% of which was spent locally.

Overall, the $1.40 billion of education-related expenditures attributable to UHM generated $2.45 billion in local business sales, $735 million in employee earnings, $131 million in state tax revenues, and slightly under 20,000 jobs in Hawai‘i in FY2012. This represented approximately 3.4% of total jobs, 2.5% of worker earnings, and 2.2% of total state tax revenues.

Looking to the future, the university’s Hawai‘i Innovation Initiative ( HI2 ) plans to more than double the UH system’s current level of extramural research funds from less than $500 million to an ambitious $1 billion per annum. If the HI2 successfully doubles research expenditures, our analysis suggests more than 5,000 new jobs would be created from the ripple effects of the research spending alone, independent of any technology transfer and other jobs created as a direct result of the research.


Read the Study


Staffing Structure of the University of Hawai‘i at Manoa, Peers, and Doctoral/Research-Extensive Universities

Posted January 15, 2013 | Categories: Presentations, Project UH

This study examines staff support at the University of Hawai‘i at Manoa (UHM) vis-à-vis its peer group (Peers) and all 4-year public Doctoral/Research-Extensive Universities (DREU). More specifically, we compare the averages of the ratio of full-time equivalent (FTE) staff to FTE faculty and FTE enrollment across the three groups; UHM, Peers, and DREU. We present results for the following support staff categories: executive, administrative, and managerial; other professional (support/service); technical and paraprofessional; clerical and secretarial; skilled crafts; and service/maintenance.


Executive Summary


Staffing Report Presentation

Carl Bonham on Insights on PBS Hawaii

Posted January 7, 2013 | Categories: Media

UHERO Executive Director and Professor of Economics Carl Bonham participates in Insights on PBS Hawaii's 2012 Year in Review panel. With host Dan Boylan, panel guests take a look back at top stories from 2012, covering topics such as rail, the election, education, tourism, and more




UHERO Asia-Pacific Foreacast: Developing Countries Buoy Asian Growth

Posted December 7, 2012 | Categories: Forecasts

The never-ending European debt debacle and stuttering US recovery have taken a bite out of Asia-Pacific growth this year. Higher income Asian economies have suffered the most from the trade falloff. At the same time, labor markets and fiscal conditions in East and Southeast Asian developing countries remain far stronger than in the developed world. As a result, growth prospects for the region continue to look rosier than in much of the rest of the world, if softer than we saw in the early post-crisis rebound.

A summary of this forecast is available as a service to the public. For more detailed analysis, subscribe to UHERO's Forecast Project.


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Carl Bonham on Howard's Election Report on Hawaii News Now

UHERO economist Carl Bonham spoke with Howard Dicus at the State Capitol post-election to help clarify the so called "fiscal cliff".  The cliff refers to hundreds of billions of dollars in spending cuts and tax increases that could lead to a serious recession in 2013.  Lets hope that our elected officials can come together to meet this test!   


UHERO State Forecast Update: Tourism Shines, Construction Clouds Lifting


Hawaii’s tourism juggernaut powers onward, but growth elsewhere remains elusive. Broader—and a bit stronger—expansion is in the pipeline.

A summary of this forecast is available as a service to the public. For more detailed analysis, subscribe to UHERO's Forecast Project.



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UHERO Report on KITV: Hawaii's Unemployment Rate Falls to 5.7%

Jill Kuramoto interviews UHERO Executive Director and Professor of Economics Carl Bonham.

  • Did these unemployment number come at all as a surprise?
  • How do state numbers compare to national numbers?
  • How will the upcoming holiday season affect the unemployment rate?


How China’s Approved Destination Status Policy Spurs and Hinders Chinese Travel Abroad

China’s “Approved Destination Status (ADS) policy allows citizens of mainland China to take pleasure trips abroad on group package tours to countries that have negotiated and implemented agreements with China. In this paper, we examine the reasons for this unique preferential and incremental travel liberalization system and how it affects mainland Chinese outbound pleasure travel.

 Working Paper


UHERO Report on KITV: Unemployment Rate Falls to Lowest Level Since January 2009

Posted October 5, 2012 | Categories: Media

Mahealani Richardson speaks with UHERO Executive Director and Professor of Economics Carl Bonham about the September Employment Report and the upcoming UHERO Forum on Hawaii's economy. At the UHERO Forum speakers will delve into the latest economic topics affecting our community, such as Hawaii's unique agriculture industry and the challenges facing it. Can Hawaii's farmers compete with farmers in the rest of the world? Can we produce more food locally? The UHERO Forum will be on Monday, October 29 from 8AM-2PM at the Hilton Hawaiian Village. 


UHERO Report on KITV: Facing a Fiscal Cliff

Posted September 21, 2012 | Categories: Media

Jill Kuramoto interviews UHERO Executive Director and Professor of Economics Carl Bonham.

  • The unemployment rate fell but people aren't exactly dancing in the streets - why is that?
  • Will the recent policy commitments by the US Federal Reserve and the European Central Bank help?
  • Is there any optimism at this point?


What Should Be the Appropriate Tax Base for Online Travel Companies' Hotel Room Sales?

This essay examines the current dispute between state and local governments in the U.S. and online travel companies (OTCs) over the appropriate hotel occupancy tax base for online hotel bookings. It addresses the question of what should be the appropriate tax base in designing hotel occupancy tax statutes. It argues that the appropriate tax base should be the full rental prices of the hotel rooms paid by consumers inclusive of online travel company markups and service fees and not the discounted net rates paid by the OTCs to their hotel suppliers.

Published: Mak, J. 2012. What Should Be the Appropriate Tax Base for OTCs’ Hotel Room Sales? Pages 775-786  Tax Analysts. Tax Analysts, Falls Church, Virginia. 



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