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Wednesday, April 8, 2009
April 8, 2009 News Read
By Andrew Walden @ 7:17 AM :: 10665 Views

Layoffs and Taxes -- Senate budget proposal raids hotel tax, foresees counties imposing sales levy

The Senate Ways and Means Committee yesterday approved its version of the state budget, which cuts the original Lingle administration budget by $1.9 billion.

The budget is partially balanced by taking the hotel room tax that usually goes to the counties.

To replace that, Senate leaders are proposing, in House Bill 1605, to permit the counties to raise their own money with a new tax.

Budget scenarios from both the House and Senate envision layoffs of more than 300 state workers. The House version would eliminate 375, and the Senate 315.  Yesterday, Sen. Donna Kim, Ways and Means Committee chairwoman, said in the committee hearing that the effort was to preserve jobs for those who provide direct services to the public.

Kim said those losing jobs would be "exempt, special assistants and PR types."

Advertiser:  Draft budget includes job, spending cuts; separate bills would raise taxes , Nonprofits rally for funds

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Chances weaken for passage of altered civil union measure

After a 45-minute Democratic caucus yesterday, Senate Vice President Russell Kokubun was tasked with polling the 23 Democratic members to see if there was support for any more action on the issue this year.

"I would say it is less than 50-50," Kokubun said when asked about the chances of the bill moving ahead.  Noting that the bill is still alive for consideration next year, Kokubun said he thinks that "time is running out for any amendment."

Sen. Brian Taniguchi, Judiciary Committee chairman, said "there are a lot of obstacles" to reviving the same-sex or civil-union issue this year.

The Legislature is set to adjourn May 7. According to internal legislative timetables, House bills to be voted on in the Senate have to be ready by Tuesday.

Supporters like state Board of Education member Kim Coco Iwamoto spent yesterday lobbying senators.  The proposed amendment would open civil unions to any two unrelated people and take out references to marriage.  Hanabusa said yesterday that the renewed interest in the measure came after the meeting with Iwamoto.

(DoE is fighting for $$$ in the budget and what is Mr KimCoco Iwamoto doing???)

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LA Times: Hawaii, suffering tourism drop appeals to Obama

In a letter to Obama last month, Gov. Linda Lingle and 95 government leaders, business owners and tourism officials urged the president to block any policies that would limit business travel in the future.
Lingle said that since Jan. 1, 132 meetings and business trips had been canceled for this year and next, representing a loss of 87,003 room nights. The cancellations amount to losses of $58.8 million in direct revenue and 694 full- and part-time jobs in the state's tourism industry, according to the letter.

RELATED: Gov. Lingle, LtGov Duke Aiona, Mayors, tourism industry leaders urge Pres. Obama to support business travel

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Be careful in listing tax delinquents' names online

The department sent letters to 41 of them who are in arrears of a total of $23 million, asking them to meet their obligations or work out plans to clear their debts to keep their names off online display....However, it is essential that officials don't list someone by mistake. Government power to use information about taxpayers should be wielded with caution.

(There must be some Legislators on that list....)

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Pork Dreams: More than $100M in earmarks for Hawaii sought in U.S. House

(While layoffs and tax increases are coming, here is what the Hawaii Democrat Congressional Delegation is focused on....)

Some of Hawai'i's top earmark requests for the 2010 budget include:

  • $34.3 million for education services for Native Hawaiians.
  • $14.2 million for Native Hawaiian healthcare.
  • $10 million for affordable-housing programs for Native Hawaiians eligible to live on Hawaiian Homelands.
  • $15 million to help farmers in Hawai'i, Alaska and the Pacific basin.
  • $13.6 million for waterfront work at Pearl Harbor Naval Shipyard.
  • $8 million to expand Hawaii Volcanoes National Park.

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    Broken Trustee still not going to jail: Lanikai man (Jervis) gets probation for car chase of Hawaii teen vandals  (soft on crime)

    (Gotta love the way they kept his name out of the headline...)

    He said his house has been "egged" more than 30 times, including once since his arrest.  (Why would anyone want to do that to poor little Gerry?)

    Jervis was originally charged with felony criminal property damage and terroristic threatening as well as drunken driving and harassment.

    The prosecutor's office later reduced those charges to petty misdemeanors 

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    Land fund raid step closer to reality

    (Will Hawaii County stop allocating 2% of its budget to buy "open space"--when land swaps would do it for free?)

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    Hidden tax increase on outsiders?--New value allocation approach applied to Kaua‘i condominiums

    Short sales, real estate owned properties and foreclosures were regarded as indicators of liquidation value rather than market value.

    RELATED: Council continues budget reviews

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    Parents rally to preserve Wailupe Valley school

    According to the report, the weighted student formula allocation to Wailupe Valley for fiscal year 2008-2009 is $954,274 or $12,079 per student, compared to $2,790,999 or $5,140 per student at Aina Haina Elementary.  (Of course if the DoE bureaucracy were eliminated, ALL schools could get this much....)

    read more

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