From the January 17, 2003 print edition
Small business optimistic on Lingle era
After waiting 40 years for change, small business is
understandably optimistic the state's first Republican
1962 will enact widespread changes to improve the business
But many businesspeople realize it may take longer
than a year for that to happen, and are willing to wait
a little longer for the
changes promised by new Gov. Linda Lingle.
owner of Balloons & Things, wants state
government run more efficiently and more as a business,
understands it may take more than a year for Lingle to
begin implementing substantive changes.
"The first year is going to be more about assessing
where things are, looking for what needs to be righted
and then moving to
make the change," he said. "It's got to be
done thoughtfully, instead of haphazardly, done for effect
as opposed for the sake of
just doing it."
For the first time in years, local
businesses that are part of the National Federation of
Independent Business are optimistic about
the future, says Bette Tatum, state director of the national
small-business advocacy group.
"We asked if they are more optimistic today about
the business climate and the future and, for the first
time in years, 70 percent
said yes," she said. "That is nice. Before,
small business said they [legislators] hate us. That's
where you get the hope, and when
you have hope it really helps people."
costs for health-care insurance is the paramount concern
of local NFIB members, Tatum said, but to
change that requires approval from the U.S. Congress
to amend the 1974 Hawaii law capping employee health
contributions at 1.5 percent.
"We need a fairer sharing of health costs," she
said. "That law was done 30 years ago; it makes
no sense today."
Other issues are eliminating workers' compensation stress
claims and removing the loophole that requires limited-liability
partnerships to have workers' comp coverage when the
partners are the only employees while the law exempts
partners in a
limited-liability corporation from the same mandate.
"Since an LLP is a partnership under state law, it
doesn't make sense to treat it differently than any other
Other issues for the NFIB are lowering the general
excise and personal income tax rates, and initiating
liability and insurance reforms. Tatum wants to see some
progress this year, but understands change will take
some more time.
"You're not going to get everything in the first year," she
said. "I don't see a whole lot other than the budget
being done, but I
hope they leave some time to get down to what is going
to help business."
Making sure Hawaii-based companies get their fair share
of the hundreds of millions of dollars of military construction
now up for bid is a prime concern for Christine Camp
of Avalon Development and the Chamber of Commerce of
"How do we make sure local companies participate in
that?" Camp asked. "It's a huge amount of money
into the economy."
Other issues identified by the chamber include lowering
the excise tax and reforming workers' comp rules, said
some technology companies will devise ways to help make
government operations more efficient.
owner of Cisco's Cantina, likens the change Lingle is
bringing to government to building a skyscraper.
"You don't start at the top floor; you start at
the bottom and you start building and you can see things
going up, you can see
things coming along," he said. "That's what
I think we'll see here … but it's not going to
happen that quickly. It will take time."
DiPietro at 955-8039 or firstname.lastname@example.org
Pacific Business News (Honolulu) - January 20, 2003
© 2003 American City Business Journals Inc.