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Thursday, April 23, 2009
Legislature: $300M in tax hikes to avoid a few days off for HGEA
By Andrew Walden @ 11:52 AM :: 5872 Views :: Energy, Environment

Senate hikes Hawaii hotel room tax

opponents, including Republican Gov. Linda Lingle and hotel executives, say the tax hike will hurt travel to the Islands at a time when visitor arrivals are down by double digits.  The TAT will rise from 7.25 percent to 8.25 percent on July 1, then will rise to 9.25 percent on July 1, 2010. 

The Senate vote was 19-5, with three Democrats dissenting from the majority to side with the chamber’s two Republicans. Three other Democrats voted “aye” with reservations.  Lingle has said she may veto the bill. A two-thirds vote in the 25-member Senate is needed to override a veto....

RELATED: Tourist tax increase likely to backfire, industry warns , Governor may veto added burden on upper-income residents, tourists

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Cataluna: Legislators need pay cuts, not retirees

But tucked in that bill is an attempt to tax retirees' pensions. This, from the same folks who seem to feel no guilt taking sizable pay raises for themselves while programs are being cut and there's talk of furloughs to balance the budget.

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Hawaii Legislature passes tax hikes on income, cigarettes

Lawmakers voted Wednesday to increase the state income tax rates for single taxpayers who make $150,000 or more a year, heads of households who make $225,000 or more, and couple filing jointly earning $300,000 or more a year. The bill also raises the personal exemption and the standard income tax deduction.

The cigarette tax increases the per-cigarette tax to 13 cents, ($2.60 a pack) starting July 1. The tax will increase to 14 cents July 1, 2010, and 15 cents on July 1, 2011. ($3.00 a pack)

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Tobacco settlement fund shift criticized

Siphoning money from Hawaii's tobacco prevention programs to help solve state budget gaps as proposed in a Senate bill "is not a wise thing to do," says Jean Evans, the executive director of the American Lung Association in Hawaii.

The tobacco settlement fund was intended "to create a healthy, smoke-free Hawaii" and programs are working, Evans said. "Diverting these monies to the state general fund would significantly harm programs that have reduced teen smoking by 60 percent."

Senate Bill 292 cuts the amount going into the tobacco prevention and control trust fund to 2 percent from 12.5 percent or about $11 million.

(Of course they are cutting prevention.  THE STATE IS NOW A PARTNER IN THE TOBACCO INDUSTRY AND WANTS TO PROTECT ITS SOURCE OF $3.00 PER PACK TAX REVENUE.) 

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Democrats confident of prevailing on taxes

Ignoring veto threats from Republican Gov. Linda Lingle, Democrats in the state Legislature sent her bills calling for more than $300 million in tax increases.

» HB 1741: Increases the tax for real estate sales above $2 million.

» HB 1747: Increases high-income tax brackets.

» HB 1175: Increases the per-cigarette tax to 13 cents starting in July and 15 cents by July 2011.

» HB 895: Increases the tax on tobacco products other than cigarettes and cigars.

» SB 1111: Increases the tax on rental proceeds from transient accommodations (hotel room tax), with all the extra money going to the state.

Lingle says that instead of raising taxes, she can balance the budget with $278 million in labor-cost savings by either reducing state worker salaries or furloughing workers and reducing medical benefits.  A labor official in discussions with Lingle who asked not to be identified said the administration is proposing that employees accept 32 to 39 days off without pay during the next two years to protect medical benefits.

RELATED: Tax hike for buyers of pricey real estate

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