Hawaii’s Taxpayers Need Relief

Rick Hamada
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Wednesday - February 04, 2009

The Grassroot Institute of Hawaii, in conjunction with Citizens Against Government Waste, recently released its first Hawaii Pork Report, The Book Hawaii’s Government Doesn’t Want You to Read.

They are right.

Most of the people in Hawaii who pay attention to governmental things have always had a nagging question in the back of their minds: Why is it that we are among the highest-taxed states in America? This report endeavors to cast some light on Hawaii’s financial black hole.

According to Jamie Story, executive director of the GRI of Hawaii, this is a nonpartisan examination of local government. The findings and the data speak for themselves.

This study comes at a fortuitous time as our federal, state and local governments wrestle with recently unprecedented fiscal challenges. In the whirlpool of stimulus and bailouts, it is fascinating to see how government has acted as steward of your cash as it seeks to spend even more.


The Hawaii Pork Report covers a lot of ground. It addresses issues such as transportation, state agencies, arts, music, entertainment and government travel. You will be astounded at the revelations and sobered by the conclusions. I heartily recommend you read the details for yourself at www.grassrootinstitute.org. I’d like to know what you think.

Gov. Linda Lingle said in her State of the State address that we cannot continue to do business as usual. Yes, that’s true. But despite her comment that “everything is on the table” in contemplating the best strategy to mitigate the economic challenges we face, I am hopeful the administration will not deviate from its hallmark reputation for financial responsibility.

I recently asked Linda Smith, senior policy adviser to the governor, if there was any tax relief to be found this session, and she responded with two examples. One is the reduction of the 66-cent cell phone fee for emergency call tracking, and the prevention of a container-tax increase on shipped goods.

Although I can appreciate a small break on my cell phone bill and the killing of a shipping increase, I am hopeful the governor takes a defined and determined position in alleviating additional tax and fee burdens on Hawaii residents. We are already the fourth-highest-taxed state in America. Although we are facing a budget deficit, it is proven time and time again that tax reductions are essential to true economic stimulation.

I focus my comments to the governor and her administration because the concept of tax reduction is so foreign to the Democratic majority. At least I don’t feel like I am wasting my breath petitioning the governor, while requesting tax relief from the Legislature would be an utter waste of time.

Finally, I know there is hand-wringing and wailing about the downturn in our economy. I understand it. We are a small-business family, and things are tough. But our cloud is not without a silver lining. This is one of the rare times when your government is actually forced to become more efficient and streamlined.

Why? Because you can’t go on a spending spree when you are broke! Budgets must be examined, expenditures must be justified and the public’s awareness is heightened because they are broke, too.

I always maintain that, in times of chaos, there is opportunity. Well, that sound you hear is opportunity knocking. As a matter of fact, opportunity is breaking the door down.

It will be interesting to see how we answer.

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