Holding Pro-Tax Pols Accountable

Rick Hamada
By .(JavaScript must be enabled to view this email address)
Wednesday - May 11, 2005

It is done.

The Democrat-controlled Legislature has passed HB1309, which authorizes the counties around the state to add a surcharge of 12.5 percent onto the General Excise Tax. Why? So counties can raise money for transportation projects. Here on Oahu, the phantom rail system can now be funded upon approval of the City Council.

What that system is, not one person on God’s green Earth can tell you, but by gosh, we sure are gonna raise that tax.

If the councilmembers agree to increase the GET, this will be the largest tax increase in the history of the state. But do those lawmakers who voted to authorize the increase care what the negative effects will be on the average resident of Hawaii?

Evidently not.

Talk to small-business owners who employ the majority of the private sector. Ask them what an increase in the GET means to their businesses. Some will have to lay off employees, cut product lines and become less competitive in an already highly competitive market.


Ask regular working people what a loss of nearly $500 of income a year will mean to a family of four.

Ask economists what the removal of an additional $160 million out of this economy will mean to an emerging, yet volatile economy. That’s tens of millions of dollars less to be spent in shops and for services. Tens of millions taken from every single man, woman and child who buys anything from a candy bar to a multimillion- dollar home.

For what?

An empty promise of salvation from a brutally congested traffic corridor.

Although conventional wisdom stated the increase in the GET would be passed by the Legislature, lawmakers had a choice to make and should be held accountable for that decision. Legislators on both sides of the aisle could have made a strong and defined statement of advocacy for businesses that drive this economy and the families who comprise this community. But they did not. Those who voted for the ability to increase the GET sided with those entities who dismiss the needs and concerns of regular men and women of Hawaii. I believe an elected official has a resume each and every time they seek office, and that is their record.

Let me leave you with a couple of things to consider.

If you support a rail system, why? There is no plan. Yet, you are being asked to “trust” the government to do the right thing. Sen. Brian Taniguchi said the GET increase will require “a leap of faith.” Sen. Lorraine Inouye is quoted as saying, “I don’t want to be another Rene Mansho.” Mansho, as a City Council member in 1992, cast the deciding vote to kill a proposed rail project.

These are the best arguments in support of the biggest tax increase in the history of our state?

Some of you think this is just another occasion to complain about a governmental program. Don’t worry. There are viable alternatives, and we will provide those ideas next week.

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