Saturday, October 1, 2022
Hawai'i Free Press

Current Articles | Archives

Saturday, September 1, 2018
State tax first of many?
By Keli'i Akina PhD @ 1:13 AM :: 4853 Views :: Education K-12, Labor, Taxes

State tax first of many?

From Grassroot Institute, August 31, 2018

It would be hard to find anyone willing to argue that Hawaii’s children don’t deserve a first-rate education. Or that good teachers don’t deserve to be paid well.

And I’m not going to start here.

However, the question of how to pay teachers and fund public education is a far more difficult problem. State budgets are limited, tax revenues can fluctuate, and citizens generally don’t like higher taxes.

And so, policymakers look for the magic bullet, the revenue source that can pay for public education without alienating voters. Some states have tried lotteries, others have tried taxing things like soda. In Hawaii, we are now looking at one of the most popular of all tax solutions: passing the costs to a nebulous “other.”

This November, Hawaii voters will decide whether the state Constitution will be amended to allow the state to impose “a surcharge on investment real property.” The wording of the ballot question indicates that the money would be used to fund public education, but gives no further details.

Notably, the language of the amendment itself does not mention public education. In fact, Hawaii’s four counties consider the language of the amendment so vague and problematic that they have filed a lawsuit asking a state court to block the ballot measure.

There are a number of reasons to be concerned about this amendment, and the wording is just the beginning. There are questions about fiscal responsibility at the state Department of Education, the fact that “investment real property” is not defined, the fact that there are no tax rate limits mentioned, how the funds would be used, the effect on the counties, the impact on real estate and the housing market, the potential for higher rents, and much more. We plan to discuss many of these in the future, but right now I want to consider the question of precedent.

If this amendment passes, it means that a specific interest group will have created a funding stream within the state Constitution. What’s more, that interest group has significant union membership and collective bargaining power. How long would it be before another group begins lobbying for a similar privilege? Certainly, there is no shortage of worthy causes, from health careworkers to public safety employees. Will they each get their own constitutional funding provisions?

Currently our state legislators are responsible for allocating sufficient moneys from the general fund to the state Department of Education. Every year they must balance the needs of the different state departments and make hard decisions about what Hawaii taxpayers can and cannot afford. Allowing them to tap into county property taxes to fund specific state programs would take pressure off them to be fiscally responsible — and open the door to future budgetary shenanigans.

Hawaii voters would be wise to look at other ways to fund Hawaii’s public education system — if additional funding is truly needed at all — before tinkering with the state Constitution and setting a worrisome precedent.

Ehana kākou! (Let’s work together!) 

Keli'i Akina, Ph.D.

President/CEO

Links

TEXT "follow HawaiiFreePress" to 40404

Register to Vote

2aHawaii

808 Silent Majority

ACA Signups Hawaii

Alliance Defending Freedom

Aloha Pregnancy Care Center

American Council of Trustees and Alumni

AntiPlanner

Antonio Gramsci Reading List

A Place for Women in Waipio

Astronomy Hawaii

Back da Blue Hawaii

Ballotpedia Hawaii

Better Hawaii

Broken Trust

Build More Hawaiian Homes Working Group

ChinaTownWatch.com

Christian Homeschoolers of Hawaii

Cliff Slater's Second Opinion

DVids Hawaii

FIRE

Fix Oahu!

Frontline: The Fixers

Genetic Literacy Project

Grassroot Institute

Habele.org

Hawaii Aquarium Fish Report

Hawaii Aviation Preservation Society

Hawaii Catholic TV

Hawaii Christian Coalition

Hawaii Cigar Association

Hawaii Coalition Against Legalized Gambling

Hawaii ConCon Info

Hawaii Credit Union Watch

Hawaii Crop Improvement Association

Hawaii Debt Clock

Hawaii Defense Foundation

Hawaii Family Advocates

Hawaii Family Forum

Hawaii Farmers and Ranchers United

Hawaii Farmer's Daughter

Hawaii Federalist Society

Hawaii Federation of Republican Women

Hawaii Future Project

Hawaii Gathering of Eagles

Hawaii History Blog

Hawaii Homeschool Association

Hawaii Jihadi Trial

Hawaii Legal News

Hawaii Legal Short-Term Rental Alliance

Hawaii Life Alliance

Hawaii March for Life 

Hawaii Matters

Hawaii's Partnership for Appropriate & Compassionate Care

Hawaii Public Charter School Network

Hawaii Rifle Association

Hawaii Shippers Council

Hawaii Smokers Alliance

Hawaii State Data Lab

Hawaii Together

HIEC.Coop

HiFiCo

Hiram Fong Papers

Homeschool Legal Defense Hawaii

Honolulu Navy League

Honolulu Traffic

House Minority Blog

Imua TMT

Inouye-Kwock, NYT 1992

Inside the Nature Conservancy

Inverse Condemnation

Investigative Project on Terrorism

July 4 in Hawaii

Kakaako Cares

Keep Hawaii's Heroes

Land and Power in Hawaii

Legislative Committee Analysis Tool

Lessons in Firearm Education

Lingle Years

Malulani Foundation

Managed Care Matters -- Hawaii

Malama Pregnancy Center of Maui

Mauna Kea Recreational Users Group

MentalIllnessPolicy.org

Military Home Educators' Network Oahu

Missile Defense Advocacy

MIS Veterans Hawaii

NAMI Hawaii

Natatorium.org

National Christian Foundation Hawaii

National Parents Org Hawaii

NFIB Hawaii News

No GMO Means No Aloha

Not Dead Yet, Hawaii

NRA-ILA Hawaii

Oahu Alternative Transport

Obookiah

OHA Lies

Opt Out Today

OurFutureHawaii.com

Patients Rights Council Hawaii

PEACE Hawaii

People vs Machine

Pritchett Cartoons

Pro-GMO Hawaii

P.U.E.O.

RailRipoff.com

Rental by Owner Awareness Assn

ReRoute the Rail

Research Institute for Hawaii USA

Rick Hamada Show

RJ Rummel

Robotics Organizing Committee

Save Dillingham Airfield

School Choice in Hawaii

SenatorFong.com

Sink the Jones Act

Statehood for Guam

Talking Tax

Tax Foundation of Hawaii

The Real Hanabusa

Time Out Honolulu

Trustee Akina KWO Columns

UCC Truths

US Tax Foundation Hawaii Info

VAREP Honolulu

Waagey.org

West Maui Taxpayers Association

What Natalie Thinks

Whole Life Hawaii

Yes2TMT