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Sumner La Croix on PBS Hawaii Insights: Is Hawaii Losing Its Middle Class?

Is Hawaii losing its middle class? Paradise comes at a price, with rising food and housing costs, a challenged public school system and few professional opportunities in a tourist-driven economy. UHERO's Sumner La Croix joins Malia Mattoch and guests on Insights on PBS Hawaii to discuss how these issues impact the islands' middle class residents. 

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UHERO on Bytemarks Cafe: The UHERO Dashboard Project

Posted June 13, 2013 | Categories: Media

UHERO Executive Director and Professor of Economics Carl Bonham and Database Manager Ben Trevino appeared on Bytemarks Cafe where they discussed the UHERO Dashboard Project, a data dashboard development project running throughout the month of June. The dashboard is being designed with input from the community, to help people better understand Hawaii's economy.

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UHERO County Forecast: Growth Accelerates Statewide

Posted May 24, 2013 | Categories: Forecasts

2012 was another year of strong tourism gains for Hawaii’s counties, and a year when significant growth spread to much of the broader economy. Oahu continues to be further along in recovery, but the Neighbor Islands are catching up fast. This year, economic growth will quicken, with an impetus from construction, which has turned the corner and is poised for a strong pickup in activity. The broadening recovery together with modest inflation will drive growth in real incomes across the counties over the next several years.

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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The Economic Impact of the University of Hawai'i System

The University of Hawai‘i (UH) generates economic activity through its purchases from local businesses, its payment to its employees, and spending by students and visitors. This report estimates UH’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.

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Potential Benefits, Impacts, and Public Opinion of Seawater Air Conditioning in Waikïkï

This report provides a summary of an investigation by the University of Hawai‘i Sea Grant College Program into the viability and effectiveness of installing a seawater air conditioning district cooling system in Waikīkī. Seawater air conditioning (SWAC) harnesses the cooling properties of cold seawater to provide cool air for air conditioning purposes. In doing so, SWAC reduces the amount of electricity needed for air conditioning. SWAC is particularly relevant to Hawai‘i for two reasons: first, the proximity of deep, cold, ocean water to areas of high population make Hawai‘i an obvious location for implementing the technology; and secondly, with approximately 90% of its electricity generated from fossil fuels, Hawai‘i is the most fossil fuel dependent state in the nation. Unlike the rest of the U.S., where coal, natural gas, and nuclear power are called upon to meet a substantial proportion of the electricity demand, Hawai‘i relies heavily on residual fuel oil (the by-product of refining crude oil for jet fuel, gasoline, and other distillates). As a result, Hawai‘i has very high electricity prices compared to the rest of the country. SWAC has the potential to both cut the cost of air conditioning and reduce the amount of harmful emissions that are released as a by-product of generating electricity from fossil fuels.


Seawater air conditioning works by pumping cold (44-45°F), deep (1,600-1,800 feet) seawater into a cooling station (Figure 1). Here, the cold seawater is used to chill fresh water flowing in nearby pipes. The chilled fresh water is then piped into hotels for cooling purposes while the seawater (slightly warmed to 53-58°F) is pumped back into the ocean at a shallower depth (120-150 feet).

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Hawaii Construction Forecast: Construction Upswing Picks Up Speed

Posted March 29, 2013 | Categories: Forecasts

Construction turned the corner in Hawaii last year after five straight years of contraction. We are now seeing impressive gains in percentage terms for private building permits, although these are starting from very depressed levels. Home building, retail and visitor industry upgrades, the ongoing boom in photovoltaic installation, and, yes, rail, will combine to drive a strong industry expansion over the next several years.

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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Sustainable Development and the Hawaii Clean Energy Initiative: An Economic Assessment

 The connection between the emerging field of sustainability science and the economics of sustainable development has motivated a line of interdisciplinary research inspired by the notion of “positive sustainability.” This notion is founded on three principles or pillars: (1) adopting a complex systems approach to modeling and analysis, integrating natural resource systems, the environment, and the economy; (2) pursuing dynamic efficiency, that is, efficiency over both time and space in the management of the resource-environment-economy complex to maximize intertemporal well-being; and (3) enhancing stewardship for the future through intertemporal equity, which is increasingly represented as intergenerational neutrality or impartiality. This paper argues that the Hawaii Clean Energy Initiative (HCEI) fails to satisfy all three pillars of sustainability, and consequently fails to achieve the "sustainability criterion" put forward by Arrow, Dagupta, Daily et al: that total welfare of all future generations not be diminished. HCEI shrinks the economy, contributes negligibly to reduction of global carbon emissions, and sparks rent seeking activity (pursuit of special privilege and benefits) throughout the State of Hawaii.

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Hawaii Economists Consider Impact Of Minimum Wage Increase

Two proposed bills in the legislation have the support of Governor Abercrombie, and could bump up Hawaii current minimum wage to $8.75 an hour. HPR's Molly Solomon reports on the potential impacts. 

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Brief: Should we increase Hawaii's minimum wage?

A higher minimum wage is unlikely to accomplish the stated goal of raising the living standards of the working poor. And given Hawaii’s highly service oriented economy, the negative impact of an increased minimum wage may have a larger impact than in other states.

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Carl Bonham Discusses Latest State Forecast Update on The Conversation

Posted February 19, 2013 | Categories: Media

UHERO Executive Director and Professor of Economics Carl Bonham goes on The Conversation on HPR to talk about the latest State Forecast Update, including discussion regarding current and forecasted federal spending cuts, construction jobs, and the future of tourism.

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UHERO State Forecast Update: Expansion Shifts Into Higher Gear

Posted February 15, 2013 | Categories: Forecasts

2012 marked a transition to healthier growth. Room for rapid tourism gains is now limited, but other sectors will pick up the pace.

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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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.

UHERO BRIEF


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.  

WORKING PAPER

 

 


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.

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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.

 

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