Kelii Akina: One Year at OHA a Report Card
Auditor: Confusion, Discord at DoH Disease Outbreak Control Division
EPA, American Samoa reach revised settlement with Starkist
Federal tax reform a reason for cheer
Hooser: Hawaii Democrats Must Raise Taxes to Offset Republican Tax Cuts
KGI: …Our state and county government must step up, and into the leadership and policy void created by the Trump administration.
Hawaii could increase local corporate tax rates to counter-balance those excessively generous federal tax cuts, and use those funds to support (insert excuse here).
Hawaii could increase measures to protect the environment, countering the (insert excuse here)….
The tax loophole for Real Estate Investment Trusts (REIT’s) could be closed and those funds used for (insert excuse here)….
read … Look in the Mirror
New Year’s means higher State and County taxes, fees, bus fares
SA: The state and city are ringing in the new year by lightening your pocketbooks through new laws or rule changes that take effect Monday….
It will cost you more to stay at a hotel or other visitor accommodation facility anywhere in Hawaii. On Monday the so-called transient accommodations tax, also known as TAT or the hotel room tax, rises to 10.25 percent, up from 9.25 percent, for the next 13 years. Those proceeds are designated for the city’s East Kapolei-to-Ala Moana Center rail line, which has been estimated to cost nearly $10 billion, including financing costs.
Passed by the Legislature in special session and then signed by Gov. David Ige this summer, Senate Bill 4 (2017 first special session), the bill also extended Honolulu’s 0.5 percent surcharge on the 4 percent general excise tax another three years — to 2030.
Altogether the package is expected to net about $2.4 billion for the rail project — $1.33 billion from the TAT increase and $1.05 billion from the surcharge extension.
The TAT increase was opposed vehemently by visitor industry and business interests who argued that a hike in hotel room taxes could put Hawaii’s travel industry at a disadvantage in a highly competitive global market….
Riders of TheBus will need to pay $2.75 for a single-fare, one-way ride and $5.50 for a one-day pass. Riders now pay $2.50 for a single fare and $5 for a one-day pass. The flimsy transfer slips allowing a rider to hop on a second bus were eliminated earlier this year and replaced by the one-day passes. The monthly adult bus pass will cost $70 and an annual one $770, up from the current $60 a month and $600 for the year, respectively.
Under Bill 28, youths will still pay $1.25 per ride and seniors $1 for single rides. Monthly rates, however, will rise to $35 a month (from $30) and $385 (from $330) for annual passes for those between 6 and 17. Seniors, those 65 and older, will continue to pay $1 for a single ride and $2 for a daily pass, but the monthly rate is going up to $6 (from $5) and the annual rate to $35 (from $30)….
The annual cost to register a car or truck on Oahu also rises Monday.
The weight tax portion of a vehicle registration is going up by 1 cent per pound in each of the next two years — to 6 cents per pound for most vehicles in 2018 and then to 7 cents per pound on Jan. 1, 2019. Trucks would go to 6.5 cents per pound in January and then 7.5 cents in 2019….
Budget Director Nelson Koyanagi said each 1-cent increase as proposed in Bill 10 is estimated to bring in $25 million annually for city coffers, so the plan is expected to bring in $12.5 million in 2018 and $50 million in 2019….
House Bill 209…reinstates three new tax brackets for the tax year that begins Monday….
Those filing joint returns making more than $300,000 annually, single heads of households making more than $225,000 and singles making more than $150,000 are affected.
For instance, joint filers will need to pay 9 percent of taxable income for between $300,000 and $350,000, 10 percent on between $350,000 to $400,000 and 11 percent on taxable income greater than $400,000. Head of households would pay 11 percent on income greater than $300,000 while singles would pay 11 percent on any portion greater than $200,000….
Meanwhile, the minimum wage statewide will rise to $10.10 an hour Monday, 85 cents more than in 2017 (and $5/hr less than the new Trump Wage announced by Hawaii banks over the last few days.)….
Big Q: Did you already pay your 2017 property tax assessment?
SA: Rush is on to prepay property taxes
read … Tax Hikes
Hawaii Clean Energy Initiative: Misleading soundbites create false narratives which promote a specific point of view
IM: …Great news is often mixed with misleading soundbites to create false narratives which promote a specific point of view.
Laws that could be written very simply, and converted into long legalese. An 11-word law could state, “Hawai`i shall not import coal, oil, or natural gas after 2045.”
Instead, Hawaii Revised Statutes (HRS 269-91, 269-92) uses over 800 words to pretend to say the same thing. The long statement is then summarized as “Hawai`i shall generate all of its electricity from renewable energy resources by 2045.”
The summary is false, but sounds good. All newspapers, and most environmental groups, repeat it until people assume that it is true.
Some people point out that Trump is engaged in Fake News, but Hawai`i is not. In our case, nobody is making a profit from falsifying history. Few groups, other than Life of the Land, question the bad news that is mixed in with the good news in the energy arena.
Many adopt the attitude, if the stake in the ground is pointed in the right direction, who cares about its accuracy? But what if the stake is not pointed in the right direction? To know that, one must question assumptions, which seems to be a dying art….
read … Hawai`i Legalize Creates Confusion
Airport Division Hopes to Parlay Leaking Roofs into New Terminal
KHON: …Leaking roofs continue to plague the Daniel K. Inouye International Airport.
Last February a leaky canopy drenched luggage and tourists trying to take cover outside of the overseas terminal.
Inside the baggage claim, water was also gushing down the front ceiling and knocking out the panels.
Tuesday’s heavy rains once again, inundated the roof in dire need of repair.
Laundry bins and garbage cans were placed under dripping ceilings Thursday, two days after the storm. A video was taken inside the overseas terminal near gates 24 through 27 showing a bulge in the ceiling with water streaming down as workers mopped the flooded floors…..
The Department of Transportation spokesperson said they put out a bid in April 2017 to fix the entire roof of the overseas terminal with an estimated cost of $10 million.
But is it enough to just fix the roof? Should more be done?
Workers at the airport said they think a new terminal should be built and Senator Espero agreed.
“It makes sense to completely remodel and rehabilitate it and spend 10, if not hundreds of millions of dollars so it can look like the world class airport you see in Japan and other international and big city destinations.” ….
read … Reward for Incompetence
Lassner: UH Enrollment is Down Sharply because we are so Successful (LOL!)
KITV: Enrollment at UH's three campuses fell more than 14 percent since 2012. UH's community colleges are also down 18 percent during that same period.
On Wednesday, lawmakers called on community college chancellors for an explanation. UH President David Lassner says the decline is partially a result of the system's success -- graduating more students faster.
"It's a consequence of our success in educating students and we have been increasing our 4-year grad rates, our 6-year grad rates and that's one of the factors that contributes to declining enrollment," said Lassner.
read … An Argument Which Could only Convince the Uneducated
Star-Adv: Don’t Study Private-Public Partnerships for Prison Construction Because We Are Working to Put Lots of Criminals Back out on the Streets Instead
SA: …the Department of Public Safety to ask lawmakers for $1 million to commission a study of public- private partnerships as a potential model for a prison modernization plan.
This week Nolan Espinda, the department’s director, offered that proposal in pursuit of “professional advice” about using partnerships to design, build and possibly finance prison or jail projects.
He said such arrangements have been tried in other states, to contract with a private company to build the prison or jail and then lease it back to the state.
It might make sense to apply that model to projects such as the construction of a new Maui jail, the expansion of the Women’s Community Correctional Center or the relocation of the Oahu Community Correctional Center, Espinda said.
Whether or not he is correct about that, however, depends on answers the state first should get from two task forces convened to explore Hawaii’s correctional policies and programs.
One is a legislative task force chaired by Hawaii Supreme Court Associate Justice Michael Wilson. A final report is expected early in the next legislative session, and that will outline a broad plan for reforming the state’s correctional system.
The second, the Criminal Pretrial Task Force, is a panel chaired by state Circuit Court Judge Rom Trader. That one, which is looking at ways to reduce the jailing of those awaiting trial at OCCC, is likely to take another year, said state Sen. Clarence Nishihara, Senate Public Safety Committee chairman….
SA: ‘Habitual’ offender arrested following Mililani shoplifting
read … Soft on Crime
Kahauiki Village: A new community for homeless families with children
HM: …It is an opportunity for hundreds of people to help in their respective areas of expertise and professionalism, to transform the lives of homeless families.
The vision for Kahauiki Village is one in which children will have hope and support to live a better tomorrow. Their parents will have jobs and pay subsidized rent; their homes will have all the necessities and conveniences of those in any other safe, comfortable neighborhood; and their community will have shared resources of gardens, fruit trees, a sundry store and child care center. ….
read … Kahauiki Village: A new community for homeless families with children
Homeless Dude too Fat to Get out of Dumpster, 911 Called
HNN: …It's a sight residents say is not unusual in the area.
Fire and medical crews responded to the incident on Nuuanu Avenue just after 6 a.m. Residents tried to help the man out, but he was too heavy.
"It's not the first time we've seen people in the rubbish can delusional on substances and stuff," Nuuanu resident Alan Costa said.
Residents say the man frequents the Downtown Honolulu area….
AP: Muslim Works to Keep the Homeless nice and Comfy on the Streets
read … Obesity and Drugs
City: Stop Giving Money to Bums
HNN: ..The head of the mayor's Office of Housing says giving cash only enables people to continue their lifestyle on the street while the cards provide direct contact to agencies that can end people's homelessness.
"We know the community wants to help. And we want to give people an easy way that's also effective to get the word out about services," said Alexander.
The program just launched earlier this month. Fifteen thousand cards cost the city less than $400 to produce. They're currently being distributed by police officers, medics and some homeless service providers. In the new year the city will make them available to everyone.
Many of the people Hawaii News Now talked to questioned how receptive homeless people would be.
"For people to hand out something like that, it's a change and I think people could be afraid of that," said Andrea Thomas.
Wood Soueira agreed, "Half the battle is they don't want to. We offer all of these places and they don't really want to go….
KGI: Some, sadly won’t accept our help
read … Stop It Already
Did Hawaii Really Try To Thwart CNN’s Homelessness Report?
CB: …In fact, a CNN program chronicling the Waianae story in a segment of “United Shades of America,” is expected to air in April or May. That comes from producer Vanessa Sanchez, who Devera was kind enough to put me in touch with.
Devera said she found out only after her report that CNN was going ahead with its story. Despite the DLNR’s rejection of CNN’s one-day filming permit, the film crew ended up going to Waianae after all to conduct the interview with Borge.
“We understand that in any environment we go, we are guests, and we are just doing our due diligence,” Sanchez said of the permit application. “We made every attempt to do things correctly and get the correct permits to avoid any issue down the line.”…
“United Shades of America” is self-billed as a show that follows “comedian and political provocateur W. Kamau Bell as he explores communities across America to understand the unique challenges they face.”…
read … Did Hawaii Really Try To Thwart CNN’s Homelessness Report?
Year-End Wrap-up Stories