Fiscal Year 2011 started yesterday in most states, and some saw the imposition of tax increases passed in previous legislative sessions. Hawaii, of course, is among them. The Aloha State, already sporting the nation's sixth-highest per capita tax burden, decided to ignore its overspending problem and steal more money from the private sector.
The tax increases implemented yesterday include:
A $60 million tax increase on hotel occupancy. Yes, a state with an economy entirely reliant on tourism will now make it more expensive for people to visit. A five day vacation in a room that costs $175 per night will be over $80 more expensive. Just when we thought Hawaii couldn't get any more liberal, we are now likely to see a spike in the number of people sleeping in hostels.
A 2000 percent increase on the barrel tax levied on petroleum products. Democrats in the legislature claim this will go to environmental protection and clean energy, but a full 60 percent of the revenue is headed to the general fund to finance a number of spending projects. In the meantime, penny-pinching consumers now have to fork over more money to government every time they fill up their gas tank. Electricity bills are on the rise as well.
A 40 cent per pack cigarette tax increase. This tired refrain continues yet again in Hawaii. The state now sports the nation's fourth-highest cigarette tax. This is nothing more than funding ongoing expenditures with a declining revenue source. Fact: There will be another budget hole because of this bill.
Reinstatement of the death tax on estates making more than $3.5 million. Hawaiians who started businesses, paid employees, and offered goods or services that people wished to pay for will now be taxed when they die. Never mind the fact that they paid taxes on property, sales and income their entire lives. Now, starting at $200,000 of their estate, successful Hawaii residents and their benefactors - family, charities, churches - will be double-taxed for dying.
To put it simply, the Hawaii Legislature is in need of drastic change. Democrats control the Senate 23-2 and the House 45-5. They have shown no interest in addressing the serious problems the state has with government spending. None. Until the makeup of state government changes, Hawaii won't have a reason to celebrate future Fiscal New Years.