To Raise Taxes Or Cut Programs?

Bob Jones
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Wednesday - January 20, 2010
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A government shake-down

I’ve never had any interest in being in politics - well, except for wanting to push for government-sponsored, single-payer health insurance, Honolulu rail transit, same-sex marriage, dinner-cruise gambling and a few other things many of you have thwarted.

But I’d especially not want to be in politics on the state level this year and in this session of the Legislature.

Unless there’s a miracle economic recovery - and there won’t be - the choices are to cut back on services and programs or raise the excise and/or income taxes.

If we slash services we also put more government and outsource employees out of work and on the strained unemployment insurance rolls. We also lose their share of the tax base. If we cut programs, we hurt the people they serve - people the most in need of help.

So, as Walter Takeuchi of Aiea recently wrote to the Star-Bulletin, why not raise the general excise tax rather than “resorting to the many senseless solutions being proposed to cut costs?”

Well, businesses answer that. On Oahu, a retailer already pays $4.71 on every $100 of sales because of our 4.5 percent-tax-on-the-4.5 percent-tax system. And if you’re making more than $150,000 a year you’re already paying an 11 percent income tax - one of the highest in America.

So what would I vote for as a lawmaker? More tax or fewer services and programs and likely more layoffs?

I don’t know, and wouldn’t want to have to make that choice.


three star

Schools superintendent Pat Hamamoto resigned, as I suggested she should in a MidWeek column, because she’d failed to raise public confidence in our schools. Her deputy Kathryn Matayoshi is currently filling that slot.

My advice is to keep Matayoshi as interim chief, but put an amendment to voters this fall to let each incoming governor keep the incumbent or appoint a new one.

The schools chief should be a governor’s choice and not the what’s-their-names Board of Education’s. That should be a cabinet position. It’s about management, but it’s also about politics. If our students fail, our governors fail. The blame for failure should go right to the top.


three star

I tend to be an independent voter who waits until the last minute to make a decision - that said, I do tend to vote more Democratic than Republican.

But seeing those pictures and videotapes of our two U.S. senators and all the labor leaders and assorted “trough feeders” at the Colleen Hanabusa for Congress headquarters opening gave me a serious case of backlash. I figure we’re smart and we don’t need to be told whom to vote for. We’re not a plantation anymore.

I like Hanabusa. She’s smart and has earned her way up. But my immediate reaction was that I must run down and vote for Ed Case! He’s the guy Sen. Dan Inouye said we should not vote for, and I’m a contrarian kind of fellow. Don’t tell me whom not to vote for!


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