Sunday, August 14, 2022
Hawai'i Free Press

Current Articles | Archives

Sunday, March 10, 2019
Can’t You Spare Half a Penny for Education?
By Tom Yamachika @ 4:00 AM :: 3612 Views :: Education K-12, Taxes

Can’t You Spare Half a Penny for Education?

by Tom Yamachika, President Tax Foundation Hawaii

“Friends! Romans! Countrymen! We desperately need to lift our public schools and our namesake university into the 21st Century.

Senate Bill 1474 will do this by a teensy little increase of half a percent to our general excise tax (“GET”), and by establishing two special funds for the Department of Education and the University of Hawaii that will give a dedicated funding source for these fine departments charged with the heavy responsibility of educating our students.

Isn’t that a small price to ask for the future of our keiki?”

That speech was made up, but the bill was not. The speech is a summary of what many of the bill’s supporters are testifying in support of it. As of this writing, the bill is very much alive and headed over from the Senate to the House of Representatives.

There’s no mistaking that we have problems in our school system. When school officials are reduced to going to their local neighborhood boards to beg for spare change to buy pencils when the overall budget of the Department of Education is in the billions of dollars, something is seriously wrong with the system we now have.

Why is it that the multiple management layers that stand between the appropriated king’s ransom and the classrooms allow so little to filter through?

And why aren’t we making the effort to pull down available federal funds, as we have written about before?

Shouldn’t we be trying to address these problems before putting an even heavier monkey on the backs of our working families?  (And, make no mistake, this monkey weighs more heavily on those least able to afford it. We and others have written on several occasions that the GET is regressive, meaning that those with the least ability to pay are hurt the most.)

Can the life of our teachers and professors be improved with a “dedicated funding source”?  That argument is a smelly red herring. As we said during the debate over the failed constitutional amendment to surcharge real property taxes, our educational institutions already receive a ton of general fund money.

Adding a special fund won’t and can’t prevent either this or a future legislature from redirecting those general fund moneys to other pressing needs. Floods on Kauai? Lava devastation on the Big Island? Money for relief from those natural disasters has to come from somewhere. And then there are the other problems like cost of living, the homeless, invasive species, and the list goes on. Big, fat special funds would make oversight of how the money is spent tougher and would lessen accountability even more.

And, as we wrote about before, for more than twenty years our legislature shoveled $90 million a year into an “educational facilities special fund.” That fund was in existence between 1990 and 2013. At the beginning of this year, DOE’s maintenance backlog was found to be a whopping $868 million, while that of UH wasn’t far behind with $722 million. Did the backlog swell to that level in just the last 5-6 years? If not, let’s stop thinking that a special fund will be a cure-all.

Instead, what we really need to do is fix the inefficiency – whatever is causing the “trickle-out economics” that causes the staggering sums our legislature throws at our educational institutions to be reduced to peanuts by the time it reaches the classrooms. This fix will not be easy. There will be pain. Those whose actions have caused or perpetuated these disasters deserve some head-rolling, and hopefully some of that will happen.

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'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