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Monday, February 09, 2015
$185M GE Tax Hike: HB1240 on a Fast Track
By News Release @ 4:27 PM :: 3623 Views :: Education K-12, Taxes

House Republicans oppose fast-tracking of GET increase

News Release from House Republican Caucus, February 9, 2015

HONOLULU – The House Republican caucus raised concerns that a bill to increase the general excise tax (GET) was fast-tracked when the House re-referred it to a single committee. The action would allow House Bill 1240, which includes a 0.25 percent GET increase in addition to an extension of the 0.5 percent county surcharge, to have one public hearing instead of the two that were previously required.

"Any increase to the GET would negatively impact Hawaii's working families and increase our already high cost-of-living. Our caucus has long opposed any increase to the GET, and it's alarming to see this bill fast-tracked in any way," said veteran Republican Rep. Cynthia Thielen.

A 0.25 percent increase in Hawaii's GET could raise the state approximately $185 million. As drafted, this money would be a dedicated source for education. A similar bill from 2013 (House Bill 1368) would have raised the GET for education, but in committee, the money was moved to an unspecified account. House Bill 1368 passed second reading with the support of 42 House members, but it did not advance in Finance.

"Governor Ige rightfully pointed out that our state is currently spending more than we can afford, but a GET increase isn't a silver bullet. A measure like this would hurt way more than it helps, and we need to balance the budget without hurting families and small businesses," said Rep. Gene Ward, another veteran Republican.

House Bill 1368 (2013) was also re-referred to bypass the House Committee on Education after the contents of the measure changed to remove references to education. House Bill 1240, the current GET increase measure, will also bypass the House Committee on Education and be referred solely to the House Committee on Finance.

---30---

Takumi Admits HB1240 'Education' GE Tax Hike is Really About Rail

CB: State House Republicans are worried about three capital letters that went missing last week from a bill that could increase taxes for virtually everyone in Hawaii.

The change seemed innocuous enough: House Bill 1240’s committee referral to “EDN” had simply been removed Friday.

But it spoke volumes to the Minority Caucus. The change meant the bill is bypassing the Education Committee and being fast-tracked to the Finance Committee, its only hurdle before a final vote of the full House....

The seven GOP members in the House oppose any broad-based tax increase. So when they noticed this bill switched to a single committee referral, alarms sounded.

“It startled me,” Rep. Cynthia Thielen, the longest-serving Republican in the House, told Civil Beat. “That means they’re serious. They want to push this through.” ...

At the beginning of each session, a handful of legislative leaders in each chamber decide which committees will hear hundreds of bills. The referrals can spell death for one bill and breathe life into another.

“It is an inexact science,” Rep. Roy Takumi said Tuesday. “I have no doubt there are times that the referrals’ implicit intent is to make it so cumbersome that it can’t meet all the deadlines. But it’s difficult to make a broad, sweeping generalization.”

Takumi introduced HB 1240 with Rep. Karl Rhoads. It’s just one of many vehicles this session to extend the GET.

As chair of the Education Committee, Takumi said it was his call to ask leadership to remove the bill’s referral there. He wanted it to go straight to Finance because he figured if he held a hearing on it, 90 percent of the testimony would be about the rail project instead of the education component....

(Translation: HB1240 is a shell bill designed to push a rail GE Tax through.  If it advances, the education components will be gutted in favor of rail.)

House leadership — which includes Souki, Vice Speaker John Mizuno, Majority Leader Scott Saiki and Majority Floor Leader Cindy Evans — has referred roughly 335 bills to three or more committees. That’s 21 percent of all the bills introduced in the House this session....

On the Senate side, a committee comprised of Sens. Les Ihara, J. Kalani English and Josh Green decides where bills go after the Senate Majority Attorneys Office takes a first pass at recommendations on where to send each one.....

read ... How a Handful of Hawaii Lawmakers Quietly Shape an Entire Session

Also: Massive GE Tax Hike -- On the Move in House and Senate

HB1240: Text, Status

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