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Friday, April 24, 2009
April 24, 2009 News Read
By Andrew Walden @ 8:43 AM :: 5889 Views

Hawaii State Legislature Set to Raise Taxes by $1 Billion

The Hawaii State Legislature is set to collect an estimated $1 billion more over the next two years, should all of the tax bills currently still alive, be passed or enacted. The annual state budget is in excess of $7 billion, and there is a projected revenue loss of $2 billion over the next 2 fiscal years and that loss may grow when the council on revenues makes its next projection at the end of May.

That is assuming that the tax increases don't drive activities down that don't generate taxes in the first place

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Hawaiian Ceded Lands Dispute Nearing Settlement

Reportedly the state executive branch and the State Office of Hawaiian Affairs have reached an agreement on the continuing controversial issue over the sale of native Hawaiian ceded lands or crown lands turned over by Hawaiian royalty to the state.

Specific details have not been released to the public, but sources say that a deal has been struck which will require two-thirds legislative approval for any sales or land transfers of ceded lands by the state.

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Hawaii income tax increases aimed at state's richest

Using President Obama's tax policy as a guide, state House and Senate Democrats have pinned an increase in the state's income taxes on the wealthy. 

The bill approved on Wednesday, which Gov. Linda Lingle has threatened to veto, would raise income taxes on roughly the top 2.6 percent of the state's taxpayers. It would create three new income tax brackets in filing categories and gradually adjust the state's highest tax rate from the existing 8.25 percent to 11 percent depending on income.

Single taxpayers who earn less than $150,000 a year, heads of households who make less than $225,000 a year and couples filing jointly who earn less than $300,000 a year would see no tax increase under the bill. Lawmakers estimate the higher income taxes would generate $48 million a year to help balance the state's budget.

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SB: Don't raid tobacco fund

Other states have taken similar action in recent years and have suffered the consequences:

» After California's anti-tobacco program launched in 1999 had reduced smoking, funding cuts in 2003 were followed by an increase in high-school smoking rates. Every dollar California spent on anti-smoking programs has reduced smoking-caused costs by $3.60, according to the American Heart Association.

» Smoking rates in Indiana increased after funding of tobacco-prevention programs were cut by 70 percent in 2006, according to the Coalition for a Tobacco-Free Hawaii.

» In Massachusetts, a 2000 report by a Massachusetts Institute of Technology economist estimated that the state's anti-smoking program has reducing smoking-caused health-care costs by at least $2 for every dollar spent.

(And with the increased smoking rates, those states are making even MORE profits on their partnership in the tobacco business.)

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Anderson wins Council seat

» J. Ikaika Anderson: 12,582 votes

» Steve Holmes: 3,612 votes

» Tracy Nakano Bean: 2,617 votes

» Keoki Leong: 2,173 votes

» John Henry Felix: 1,825 votes

» Pohai Ryan: 869 votes

» Wilson Kekoa Ho: 832 votes

» Paul Akau: 337 votes

» Tom Pico Jr.: 324 votes

» Sol Naluai: 175 votes

» Leona Mapuana Kalima: 147 votes

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UH Law school to pioneer new type of Eco-Lawsuits

Director of a new environmental center looks at how changing climates affect islands

Q: In terms of attaining "climate justice," what is the best approach? Lawsuits?

A: Climate justice is concerned with the heavy, and disproportionate, burden climate change is placing on already vulnerable communities, the vast majority of whom have done little to contribute to the problem.

First, we need to acknowledge and share the stories of communities that will literally be wiped off of the map. Once we frame the issues around the "first and worst" hit — including island communities like Hawaii, then we might be able to have a better focus on the human impact rather than the economic or political impacts of taking action to reduce our carbon footprint. Lawsuits can serve as an important symbol, and first step, by highlighting the discussion of who should bear the burden of reducing emissions and how we might repair individuals and communities through, among other things, building capacity to adapt ...

(Could be worth $ Billions--out of your pocket!)

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UH Hilo cheers eco-terrorist pirate

Paul Watson has been called a "terrorist" and a "pirate," labels he embraces unabashedly.  "I don't care what they call us," said the co-founder of Greenpeace and founder of the Sea Shepherd Conservation Society, who spoke Tuesday at the University of Hawaii at Hilo as a prelude to Earth Day. "Our clients are whales, not people.

(Like Angela Davis who spoke at UH Hilo last year, Watson is what the faculty are teaching your children to emulate.)

RELATED: Obama and the Disunited States , Comrade Davis Comes to Hawaii

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Eco-Snobs whine about Lanai windfarm

"I am not going to live on an island that's the biggest wind farm in the Pacific," said John Mumford, 65, who owns a vacation home on Lanai. Mumford is founding partner of Crosspoint Venture Partners, a Woodside, Calif., venture-capital firm. 

Having fields of windmills nearby would erode the island's natural beauty, Marc Masterson, 53, artistic director at the Actors Theatre of Louisville in Louisville, Ky. Masterson went fishing at Polihua a year ago.

Robin Kaye, 62, a retired photographer who lives on Lanai. "Why should this island be the power generator for Oahu?  "Let them build a wind farm there." 

(Where do these people come from?  Look at the two articles directly above this one.) 

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Judge cites fraud in rejecting workers' suit against Dole

Los Angeles County Superior Court Judge Victoria Chaney ruled after hearing three days of testimony that detailed a scheme to recruit men who would claim they were rendered sterile by exposure to a pesticide in the 1970s.

Witnesses and investigators told of being in fear for their lives for exposing the fraud.

The judge denounced the lawyers who hatched the scheme and said there were a group of corrupt Nicaraguan judges "devouring bribes" to make judgments and aid the scheme.

The lawsuits ended up in the California court to seek enforcement of extravagant damages determined by Nicaraguan judges.

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Task force united in vote to shutter Wailupe school

A task force unanimously recommended last night to close Wailupe Valley Elementary School and consolidate it by this fall with Aina Haina Elementary School.

All 79 Wailupe students would be moved, including those with geographic exception, to attend Aina Haina, under the recommendation.

The task force also recommended to set aside up to $200,000 for the transition.

The savings to the Department of Education if Wailupe is shut down would be a little less than $800,000, mostly for salary costs. However, the school could be reopened as another type of public school.

He said a private school is looking into the possibility of leasing the space, but he had previously said he would like to see the facility turned into a Department of Education magnet school focusing on math, science or some other area.

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Reserve $90M for schools bureaucrats, board chairman tells Lingle

Before Lingle announced her plan, the Department of Education was expecting to receive $113 million in stabilization money. In addition to making up for expected shortfalls in state revenue, Toguchi said its plans for the money include:

» $10 million to complete a data system to track student performance until college, allowing teachers and principals to hone their efforts to raise achievement levels.

» $17 million to create tests for non-native English speakers, special-needs students and Hawaiian-immersion students.

» $10 million to help students at 100 public schools that are not eligible for federal money that targets high-poverty campuses.

(Typical covers stories for money going to desk-driving career bureaucrats writing studies and plans that nobody even implements)

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Poll: State wants tourists back

While most Hawaii residents said they have not been affected by the tourism downturn, a whopping 85 percent agreed that the state should do everything it can to bring visitors back to the state. More than 75 percent agreed the state should spend more to market Hawaii to compete with other destinations.

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Hawaii Department of Business, Economic Development and Tourism Under Fire – Again (Dem. Leg vs Gov, part 479)

Hawaii State Auditor Marion Higa recently released a scathing audit of the management of the state Department of Business Economic Development and Tourism’s (DBEDT) procurement practices.

See it here: http://www.state.hi.us/auditor/Years/2009reports.htm

Today, Senate Ways and Means Chairwoman Donna Mercado Kim, the department’s most vocal critic, will hold an informational briefing at 9:30 a.m. to review the audit.

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