Saturday, November 26, 2022
Hawai'i Free Press

Current Articles | Archives

Sunday, February 2, 2020
Why Do Lawmakers Want More Special Funds?
By Tom Yamachika @ 12:43 PM :: 2423 Views :: Hawaii State Government, Taxes

Why Do Lawmakers Want More Special Funds?

by Tom Yamachika, President, Tax Foundation Hawaii

After going through the hundreds of bills introduced in the 2020 Legislature, a few themes appear to be emerging.

One of them is that there is a plethora of requests for “special funds.”

Special funds are pots of money that exist for a specific purpose, and largely bypass the legislative appropriation process.

The existence of hundreds of these special funds has often confounded those who seek answers to simple questions like “How much money does the state have?”

This year, for example, bills have been introduced to establish:

  1. A cigarette litter abatement special fund (Senate Bill 2301) which would be funded by a new cigarette litter abatement tax;
  2. a wildlife conservation special fund (House Bill 1675, Senate Bill 2509) which would be funded by a barrel tax increase;
  3. a solid waste management research and development special fund (House Bill 1684) which would be funded by diverting 1% of all general state revenues;
  4. a climate change countermeasures special fund (House Bill 1686) which would be funded by 1% of all insurance company assessments;
  5. a clean vehicle special fund (House Bill 2493, Senate Bill 3022) which would be funded by a surcharge of up to 75% on GET on sales of gasoline powered vehicles;
  6. a “Blue Lives Matter” special fund (House Bill 2728) to benefit law enforcement officers, which would be funded by a new tax on overseas arrivals and departures; and, last but not least,
  7. a quality education special fund (House Bill 2144) which would be funded by hefty increases in the individual and corporate income taxes.

There are many others. A number of these measures involve tax increases or revenue diversion (which probably would lead to tax increases after the agency or agencies whose revenue was diverted figures it out and screams bloody murder).

Our Legislature is supposed to be the steward of all state moneys, but special funds make it very easy to lose track of where the money is and how it is being spent.

Departments are supposed to tell the Legislature if they have special funds and how much is in them, but they don’t always. Recently, in Report No. 20-01, the State Auditor took the Department of Business, Economic Development and Tourism to task for failing to report $6.5 million in non-general fund moneys. DBEDT’s response? Just that they’ll “take corrective action.”

Not even a “Whoops! We screwed up and promise to do better next time!”

This followed closely on the heels of Report No. 19-16, where the auditor found that $1.04 million in non-general fund moneys administered by the Hawaii attorney general wasn’t reported. That department responded that they “shall establish procedures to assure required reports are issued.”

Is it any wonder that it’s getting harder and harder to follow the money and rein in government spending?

Another tactic that appears to be gaining traction among special fund supporters is “scope creep.” It involves expanding the scope of what the special fund moneys may be spent on.

If special fund moneys can be spent on more and more things, then there tends to be more spending, and then the funds need to be fed more and more to stay afloat.

Then who is going to do the feeding? Probably we, the taxpayers.

The moral of the story is that special funds are often used to obfuscate and confuse, to put a smokescreen between those who spend the money and those who are charged with making sure the money is well spent.

Let’s do all of ourselves a favor and get rid of the special funds we don’t really need, and make sure that the operations of the ones we do need are transparent and accountable.

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 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