Friday, March 31, 2023
Hawai'i Free Press

Current Articles | Archives

Sunday, January 1, 2017
Ige’s Billion Dollar Psych-Out
By Tom Yamachika @ 4:01 AM :: 4752 Views :: Hawaii State Government, Taxes


By Tom Yamachika, President, Tax Foundation Hawaii

In almost every year that the Peanuts comic strip by Charles Schulz has run, Lucy offers to hold a football for Charlie Brown, Charlie Brown comes running up to kick it, and then Lucy yanks the football away at the very last second. Psych! Charlie Brown flies into the air and crashes to the ground.

Here in Hawaii, our Department of Budget and Finance reported that it closed out this past fiscal year (ending June 30, 2016) with a general fund balance over $1 billion. Our public worker unions saw this as a “surplus” and began salivating. In their mind the question was not whether there would be public worker pay raises, but how much.

In recent months, however, as we hear from the Star-Advertiser, the Ige Administration has been meeting with the unions. One of the first points made in those meetings was that the general fund balance wasn’t there any more. The state spent $1.3 billion in July! What happened to the football? Psych!

We all need to remember that the $1 billion number that Budget and Finance announced wasn’t “surplus” in the sense of “extra cash that we can play with.” It is like what a person has in the bank at a given point in time. If that account balance is high on a given day, it doesn’t mean that you’re rich, because you might have to pay out most or all of that money the very next day. Simply put, that $1 billion balance doesn’t show what we owe, so it doesn’t demonstrate the ability to spend on other things.

To underscore the point, the Governor’s executive budget for the upcoming biennium doesn’t factor in any raises for public workers. None. As Civil Beat reported, the Governor said that his administration is working “to get a fair settlement with all of the unions.” Perhaps that’s a way of saying the administration didn’t want to show its hand by sticking something in the budget while the negotiations were ongoing.

To be sure, our state government has plenty of needs. We expect the Department of Transportation to be back at the Legislature working on elected officials for more money to expand highway capacity and fix roads and bridges, even while its Harbors Division moves to significantly increase wharfage and other user fees for goods coming into Hawaii by boat. We expect the Department of Education to plead that the evil contractors caused the $100 million for 1,000 cool classrooms initiative to fail miserably, and that only more money, and lots of it, is urgently needed. And the list goes on and on, like it does every year.

And then, of course, the City & County of Honolulu will be coming in to ask for another modest (?) extension on the rail surcharge, while pressuring our lawmakers to fast-track the legislation by blaming it on the Feds needing a revised financial plan by April 20. Hawaii News Now has reported that at least one key senator is on board with the plan, and is thinking of approving an indefinite (namely, “forever”) extension of the tax in exchange for pinching not just the current 10%, but a full 1/3 of surcharge revenues.

Our government, therefore, has plenty of needs. The $1 billion “surplus,” “psych,” or whatever it is, won’t be there to satisfy those needs. Our lawmakers, therefore, will be under some pressure to find ways to put the needs and the funding in balance. If we aren’t careful, we might find them trying to force our beleaguered taxpayers to make up the difference once again. Hold on to your wallet, because this coming session looks like it may be a rough ride!



TEXT "follow HawaiiFreePress" to 40404

Register to Vote


808 Silent Majority

ACA Signups Hawaii

Alliance Defending Freedom

Aloha Pregnancy Care Center

American Council of Trustees and Alumni


Antonio Gramsci Reading List

A Place for Women in Waipio

Astronomy Hawaii

Back da Blue Hawaii

Ballotpedia Hawaii

Better Hawaii

Broken Trust

Build More Hawaiian Homes Working Group

Christian Homeschoolers of Hawaii

Cliff Slater's Second Opinion

DVids Hawaii


Fix Oahu!

Frontline: The Fixers

Genetic Literacy Project

Grassroot Institute

Hawaii Aquarium Fish Report

Hawaii Aviation Preservation Society

Hawaii Catholic TV

Hawaii Christian Coalition

Hawaii Cigar Association

Hawaii Coalition Against Legalized Gambling

Hawaii ConCon Info

Hawaii Credit Union Watch

Hawaii Crop Improvement Association

Hawaii Debt Clock

Hawaii Defense Foundation

Hawaii Family Forum

Hawaii Farmers and Ranchers United

Hawaii Farmer's Daughter

Hawaii Federalist Society

Hawaii Federation of Republican Women

Hawaii Future Project

Hawaii Gathering of Eagles

Hawaii History Blog

Hawaii Homeschool Association

Hawaii Jihadi Trial

Hawaii Legal News

Hawaii Legal Short-Term Rental Alliance

Hawaii Matters

Hawaii's Partnership for Appropriate & Compassionate Care

Hawaii Public Charter School Network

Hawaii Rifle Association

Hawaii Shippers Council

Hawaii Smokers Alliance

Hawaii State Data Lab

Hawaii Together



Hiram Fong Papers

Homeschool Legal Defense Hawaii

Honolulu Navy League

Honolulu Traffic

House Minority Blog

Imua TMT

Inouye-Kwock, NYT 1992

Inside the Nature Conservancy

Inverse Condemnation

Investigative Project on Terrorism

July 4 in Hawaii

Kakaako Cares

Keep Hawaii's Heroes

Land and Power in Hawaii

Legislative Committee Analysis Tool

Lessons in Firearm Education

Lingle Years

Malulani Foundation

Managed Care Matters -- Hawaii

Malama Pregnancy Center of Maui

Military Home Educators' Network Oahu

Missile Defense Advocacy

MIS Veterans Hawaii

NAMI Hawaii

National Christian Foundation Hawaii

National Parents Org Hawaii

NFIB Hawaii News

No GMO Means No Aloha

Not Dead Yet, Hawaii

NRA-ILA Hawaii

Oahu Alternative Transport


OHA Lies

Opt Out Today

Patients Rights Council Hawaii

PEACE Hawaii

People vs Machine

Pritchett Cartoons

Pro-GMO Hawaii


Rental by Owner Awareness Assn

ReRoute the Rail

Research Institute for Hawaii USA

Rick Hamada Show

RJ Rummel

Robotics Organizing Committee

Save Dillingham Airfield

School Choice in Hawaii

Sink the Jones Act

Statehood for Guam

Talking Tax

Tax Foundation of Hawaii

The Real Hanabusa

Time Out Honolulu

Trustee Akina KWO Columns

UCC Truths

US Tax Foundation Hawaii Info

VAREP Honolulu

West Maui Taxpayers Association

What Natalie Thinks

Whole Life Hawaii