Tax hike on 'inevitable' track
Tax collections are forecast to be lower than originally thought, and state lawmakers are looking more and more at diverting the hotel room tax — a key source of funding for the counties.
Gov. Linda Lingle says state workers must share the pain and agree to cuts in pay and benefits — or face layoffs — while the county mayors balk at her plan.
To Lowell Kalapa this all leads to one inevitable conclusion. "We've built so much into our city system that unless the city does exactly what the state is trying — which is to actually reduce the size of government — it's inevitable that we're going to have to raise taxes someplace," said Kalapa, director of the Tax Foundation of Hawaii, a tax policy analysis group.
"Right now it looks like it's going to fall on the homeowners." That likely means an increase in the real property tax rate.
Kalapa: Overtaxed already, county retail sales tax might be next
Economy puts seniors on edge
Koppel, an AARP volunteer, is following the playbook on ways seniors can save, including eating out less, not buying new clothes, making fewer trips into town (60 miles away) and cutting back on donations, he said. Vacations and home renovations are also being trimmed. Koppel took up a part-time job a few years ago and is looking for another, he said.
Seniors who do not have retirement savings, such as Irene Du Pont, a resident of a state-subsidized senior-housing complex in Kakaako, are forced to be even more frugal.
"I'm hoarding every penny I get. I'm just trying to figure out how to save money without starving myself," she said.
(These are the people who will be paying those Property Tax increases and any GE increase or County Sales Tax. Don't worry, they'll understand the need to raise taxes in order to reward Mufi and Neil's contractor/contributors....)
WHT: SB1622 card-check upends level playing field
Supporters of the bill claim it will "level the field" by eliminating the election process, which they claim is abused by employers who threaten, mislead and cajole workers. However, there is an equal or even greater potential from union organizers to mislead, misinform and cajole workers during those elections.
SB1621 would remove the election process and tip the scales completely in the favor of union organizers who may mislead, misinform and promise workers results that are at best unrealistic.
Advertiser: Stimulus requires reform (Obama tougher than NCLB!!!! BoE/DoE squirming)
In accepting federal stimulus money for the state, Gov. Linda Lingle will be committing Hawai'i to education reform.
Judging from the guidance received so far from federal education officials, the new expectations are higher — and in some cases more difficult to meet — than some of the standards of the federal No Child Left Behind law....(insert standard DoE whine about lack of money)
Here's what the U.S. Department of Education will require states to do:
• Report on the extent to which all students have access to qualified teachers and measure teacher effectiveness based on how well their students perform.
• Provide all students with multiple, high-quality assessments. Report how many high school seniors go on to pursue college and complete at least one year of college credit.
• Provide reports on the schools most in need of academic intervention and the progress those schools make in implementing reforms to improve student achievement.
• Establish a statewide data system to track progress of individual students, from preschool through post-secondary education. Match data from individual students to teachers and schools.
"When the details started to show up, we noticed they went a fair step beyond what we are currently doing or allowed to do under NCLB," DoE's Campbell said.
(And they elected Obama hahahahahahaha....)
Don't block preschool funds
A 2007 task force assigned by the Legislature to study the issue asked the Legislature last year to begin developing a preschool program that would reach an annual budget of $170 million when it becomes fully operational in a decade. Even then, Gov. Linda Lingle cited "the current and anticipated fiscal outlook for the state" in vetoing a bill authorizing the program. Legislators overrode Lingle's veto of the bill, launching the program called Keiki First Steps.
For now, the onus is on the federal government to provide funding, and President Barack Obama promised during last year's campaign that he would make large new investments in early childhood education. At Obama's request, Congress has appropriated more than $4 billion for Head Start and Early Head Start programs and for grants to states to support child care for low-income families. In Hawaii, 2.667 children are enrolled in Head Start programs.
Unhappy Hour: Chinatown residents try to shutter a bar they say is ground zero for the area's crime woes
"There's violence and there's noise, and they're all blaming it on Mall Cafe," said Downtown Neighborhood Board member Dolores Mollring. "Mall Cafe is not the problem. It's all the bars in the neighborhood. To me there's really no proof." Mollring was part of the neighborhood board when it shut down some businesses that were hubs of drug dealing and sex videos in the 1990s.
Unlike those bars, she said, Mall Cafe is trying to clean itself up. Mollring, who also heads a citizens patrol in the area, said the bar is a "pleasant, nice little bar" that is "going the right way." "It's a Micronesian bar," she said. "That's a bar that they all go to." She questioned how many opponents had actually set foot inside.
Owner Koch said the community opposes her because her clientele are fishermen and Micronesians, clashing with the upscale gallery and restaurant customers. "We're not criminals. We are the working people," she said. "They never even talk to me. They just single me out because I have a Micronesian crowd."
(So which property owners are they trying to deflect blame from?)
Maui: Ray of hope in gloomy isle real estate
* The number of condominiums sold tumbled from 276 in the first quarter of 2008 to 148 this year.
* The average condo sales price went down 23 percent, from $939,725 to $721,082.
* The median condo sales price dropped 22 percent, from $587,000 to $456,000.
* The total dollar volume of condominium sales fell 59 percent, from $259.4 million to $106.7 million.
Effort to get docs hangs in balance
The fledgling residency program has another full-time ally: former Mayor Harry Kim, who has joined the foundation board and has been seen around town drumming up support. Some $23,000 has been raised since the fundraising began earlier this year.
The program needs $50,000 to cover rent, salary and the needed equipment so it can get accredited. After that, the goal gets a lot bigger: $1.5 million through 2011.
"It's our one chance, the only program we have to get doctors here," said Kim, who as mayor declared a health care crisis on the island several years ago.
Hawaii Island has a severe shortage of primary care doctors, Kim said, and lacks long-term care facilities as well as hospital facilities in general.
Citing budget concerns, Lingle did not release $2.5 million appropriated for the program last year. State Rep. Jerry Chang introduced House Bill 343 earlier this year, appropriating $1.5 million for fiscal 2009-10 and $2.5 million for the year following. The bill is waiting for a final third reading in the Senate before passing into conference committees and possibly to the governor's desk.