Monday, July 06, 2020
Hawai'i Free Press

Current Articles | Archives

Saturday, September 01, 2018
State tax first of many?
By Keli'i Akina PhD @ 1:13 AM :: 3030 Views :: Education K-12, Labor, Taxes

State tax first of many?

From Grassroot Institute, August 31, 2018

It would be hard to find anyone willing to argue that Hawaii’s children don’t deserve a first-rate education. Or that good teachers don’t deserve to be paid well.

And I’m not going to start here.

However, the question of how to pay teachers and fund public education is a far more difficult problem. State budgets are limited, tax revenues can fluctuate, and citizens generally don’t like higher taxes.

And so, policymakers look for the magic bullet, the revenue source that can pay for public education without alienating voters. Some states have tried lotteries, others have tried taxing things like soda. In Hawaii, we are now looking at one of the most popular of all tax solutions: passing the costs to a nebulous “other.”

This November, Hawaii voters will decide whether the state Constitution will be amended to allow the state to impose “a surcharge on investment real property.” The wording of the ballot question indicates that the money would be used to fund public education, but gives no further details.

Notably, the language of the amendment itself does not mention public education. In fact, Hawaii’s four counties consider the language of the amendment so vague and problematic that they have filed a lawsuit asking a state court to block the ballot measure.

There are a number of reasons to be concerned about this amendment, and the wording is just the beginning. There are questions about fiscal responsibility at the state Department of Education, the fact that “investment real property” is not defined, the fact that there are no tax rate limits mentioned, how the funds would be used, the effect on the counties, the impact on real estate and the housing market, the potential for higher rents, and much more. We plan to discuss many of these in the future, but right now I want to consider the question of precedent.

If this amendment passes, it means that a specific interest group will have created a funding stream within the state Constitution. What’s more, that interest group has significant union membership and collective bargaining power. How long would it be before another group begins lobbying for a similar privilege? Certainly, there is no shortage of worthy causes, from health careworkers to public safety employees. Will they each get their own constitutional funding provisions?

Currently our state legislators are responsible for allocating sufficient moneys from the general fund to the state Department of Education. Every year they must balance the needs of the different state departments and make hard decisions about what Hawaii taxpayers can and cannot afford. Allowing them to tap into county property taxes to fund specific state programs would take pressure off them to be fiscally responsible — and open the door to future budgetary shenanigans.

Hawaii voters would be wise to look at other ways to fund Hawaii’s public education system — if additional funding is truly needed at all — before tinkering with the state Constitution and setting a worrisome precedent.

Ehana kākou! (Let’s work together!) 

Keli'i Akina, Ph.D.



TEXT "follow HawaiiFreePress" to 40404

Register to Vote


808 Silent Majority

808 State Update AM940


ACA Signups Hawaii



Alliance Defending Freedom

Aloha Life Advocates

Aloha Pregnancy Care Center

American Council of Trustees and Alumni

American Mothers of Hawaii



Antonio Gramsci Reading List

A Place for Women in Waipio

Astronomy Hawaii

Audit The Rail

Ballotpedia Hawaii

Better Hawaii 

Blaisdell Memorial Project

Broken Trust 

Build More Hawaiian Homes Working Group

CAFR Hawaii

Castaway Conservative

Children's Alliance Hawaii

Children's Rights Institute

Christian Homeschoolers of Hawaii

Citizens for Recall

Cliff Slater's Second Opinion

Coffee Break

CSIS Pacific Forum

DAR Hawaii

DVids Hawaii

E Hana Kakou Kelii Akina

E Māua Ola i Moku o Keawe

Farmers For Choice Hawaii


Fix Oahu!

Follow the Money Hawaii

Frank in Hawaii

Front Page Magazine

Frontline: The Fixers

Genetic Literacy Project

Get Off Your Butts!

God, Freedom, America

Grassroot Institute

Hawaii Aganst Assisted Suicide

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 Crime Victims' Rights

Hawaii Crop Improvement Association

Hawaii Debt Clock

Hawaii Defending Marriage

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 Firearm Community

Hawaii Fishermen's Alliance

Hawaii Future Project

Hawaii Gathering of Eagles

Hawaii History Blog

Hawaii Homeschool Association

Hawaii Jihadi Trial

Hawaii March for Life

Hawaii Meth Project

Hawaii's Partnership for Appropriate & Compassionate Care

Hawaii Public Charter School Network

Hawaii Rifle Association

Hawaii Right to Life -- Big Island

Hawaii Right to Life -- Oahu

Hawaii Shield Law Coalition

Hawaii Shippers Council

Hawaii Smokers Alliance

Hawaii State Data Lab

Hawaii Together

Heritage Foundation

HI Coalition Against Legalized Gambling



Hiram Fong Papers

Homeschool Legal Defense Hawaii

Honolulu Homeless Crisis

Honolulu Navy League

Honolulu Traffic

Horns of Jericho Blog

House Minority Blog

House Republican Caucus YouTube


Hump Day Report

I Vote Hawaii

If Hawaii News

Imua TMT

Inouye-Kwock, NYT 1992

Inside the Nature Conservancy

Inverse Condemnation

Investigative Project on Terrorism

Iowa Meets Maui

Jackson v Abercrombie

Jihad Watch

July 4 in Hawaii

Kahle v New Hope

Kakaako Cares

Kau TEA Party

Kauai Co GOP

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

Middle East Forum--The Legal Project

Mililani Conservatives for Change

Military Home Educators' Network Oahu

Missile Defense Advocacy

MIS Veterans Hawaii

Muslim Brotherhood in America

NAMI Hawaii


National Christian Foundation Hawaii

National Parents Org Hawaii

National Wind Watch

New Hawaiian

New Zeal

NFIB Hawaii News

No GMO Means No Aloha

Northwest Economic Policy Seminar

Not Dead Yet, Hawaii

Now What I Really Think

NRA-ILA Hawaii

Oahu Alternative Transport

ObamaCare Abortion Hawaii


OHA Lies

Opt Out Today

Pacific Aviation Museum

Patients Rights Council Hawaii

PEACE Hawaii

People vs Machine

Pritchett Cartoons 

Pro-GMO Hawaii


Rental by Owner Awareness Assn

Republican Party -- Hawaii State

Research Institute for Hawaii USA

Rick Hamada Show

RJ Rummel

Robotics Organizing Committee

Save Dillingham Airfield

School Choice in Hawaii

SIFE Remington

SIFE W. Oahu 

Sink the Jones Act

Smart About Marijuana--Hawaii

St Marianne Cope

State Budget Solutions Hawaii

State Policy Network

Statehood for Guam

Tax Foundation of Hawaii

The Harriet Tubman Agenda

The Long War Journal

The Real Hanabusa

Time Out Honolulu

Trustee Akina KWO Columns

Truth About Trade & Technology - Hawaii

UCC Truths

Union Members Know Your Rights

US Tax Foundation Hawaii Info

Valor in the Pacific

VAREP Honolulu

West Maui Taxpayers Association

What Natalie Thinks

Whole Life Hawaii