Returning The Surplus To Taxpayers

Rick Hamada
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Wednesday - January 31, 2007

The state of Hawaii has a budget surplus of $736 million, and Democrats are hell-bent on keeping every red cent. Gov. Linda Lingle wants to return about half that amount to the people who paid into it.

There are many who believe there is no difference between a Republican and a Democrat. Well, here is the difference.

We all know about the financial challenges of living in Hawaii. All you have to do is travel to the Mainland to gain some perspective. I know, we live in paradise and we have to pay for it. I don’t buy it. Where is it written that we have to be taxed to death simply because we live in such a beautiful place?

We all understand there are economic dynamics that contribute to higher prices. The two main culprits are higher Island land cost and shipping surcharges. If we were truly interested in lowering the cost of living in Hawaii, however, we would have to start with demands on our government.

The litany of tax and fee increases are legendary. It doesn’t matter if the tax is federal, state or city and county, because it all comes from one source.


When you consider the increase in property tax collections, vehicle registration tax, conveyance tax, sewer fees and the 12.5 percent increase in the General Excise Tax on Oahu, you can begin to see where the government is capturing so much of your cash. But let’s throw into the mix the price of housing, tuitions, health care, food, water and electricity, and you have an inordinate amount of your daily sustenance being capitalized by government.

The price of gas, for instance, is the highest in the nation. It makes sense when we have the highest tax per gallon in the nation. We eclipse New York City, Los Angeles and Washington, D.C. Did you know you pay 61 cents per gallon of gas just in taxes? I think it is completely disingenuous for government to criticize the petroleum industry with accusations of profiteering when the government is the real profiteer. Government does not make any investment in the exploration, production, distribution or retailing of gasoline. Yet, its hand is the first in the pocket when a gallon is sold. Huge, huge profits are realized without any effort.

Relief from the burden of taxation is not only desired, it is required. The governor has proposed the Taxpayer Reduction Act of 2007 and the ‘Ohana Tax Reduction Act of 2007 to raise the standard deduction and eliminate the GET on essential foods. Each of these proposals will provide substantial relief to families and should be given fair consideration. But the governor’s proposal to return money to taxpayers via a constitutional mandate must be approved by the Legislature.

Under the governor’s plan, a one-time cash refund of $100 per person, per family earning less than $100,000/year should be executed immediately. This means a family of five would receive a check from the state for $500. Families earning more than $100,000/year would receive $25 per person. A family of five would get a check for $125.

There are some Democrat legislators who believe this is an insignificant amount, and the state would know best how to use it.

With beliefs such as this, the days of government issuing our black bicycle with Mao jackets while posting the official news in the town square can’t be far behind.

The bottom line is the bottom line. Government is a non-profit entity. Ideally, government constructs a budget and collects and spends accordingly. We have an obscene budget surplus and, if I had my way, I’d return every darn dime to the taxpayers. But since that’s not gonna happen with Democrats in legislative power, I urge you to support the governor and like-minded lawmakers.

The difference is clear. Democrats want to control your lives and Republicans want you to live it.

Which do you prefer?

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