by Paul Smith
Saturday at 4 p.m. the Senate-House Conference committee reported out several tax increase bills. The scheduling of the Conference meeting--announced late Friday and the meeting held late Saturday--minimized public participation and oversight. Additionally, if these bills are approved by April 21; the Legislature has a chance to override any veto before their scheduled adjournment on May 7.
The Hawaii Republican Assembly sent out an alert late Friday and had twenty members present to watch these proceeding. While no testimony is permitted at a Conference Committee meeting; we believe that it is vital Legislators not be allowed to make such critical decisions without being watched.
All of the bills noted below will be voted "up or down" on Tuesday April 21 and, if passed, go immediately to the Governor for signature or veto.
Please call or email the office of your Representative and Senator and other members to express your opinion on these bills.
If tax increases can be stopped in the Legislature there is a chance that other tax increases that are yet to be considered will also be stopped. "NO NEW TAXES" is the message to deliver to our representatives.
Conference approved raising income tax rates on individuals who earn $150,000 or more a year, heads of households who make $225,000 or more a year, and couples filing jointly who earn $300,000 or more. Beyond these increases there are further increases to the progressive nature of Hawaii State taxes so that higher individual or joint incomes will rise to: over $350,000 to 9%; over $450,000 to 10%; and over $550,000 to 11%. For some these increases will represent be a 30% marginal tax increase in one year. The quote of the week by Conference Committee member Rep. Pono Chong is "We're not asking them to pay a lot more. We're just asking them to pay a little more." View the bill in its latest version at: http://www.capitol.hawaii.gov/session2009/bills/HB1747_SD1_.pdf
The Conference approved increases in the hotel room tax will be 1% this year and another 1% next year bringing the total room tax from 7.25% now to 9.25% in 2010. All of the increase will go to the general fund and not for tourism promotion nor to the Counties. Imagine, hotel guests will be paying $9.25 TAT plus $4.71 GET for each $100 of hotel room cost. Thus, a $100 room will cost our visitors $113.96 by 2010!! View the bill at: http://www.capitol.hawaii.gov/session2009/bills/SB1111_HD1_.pdf
The Conference report on both of these bills increased the taxes on all tobacco products. View the bills at: http://www.capitol.hawaii.gov/session2009/bills/HB895_SD2_.pdf and http://www.capitol.hawaii.gov/session2009/bills/HB1175_SD2_.pdf
The Conference report increased the tax on some property transfers with extra charges for non resident owners/buyers and now a 1% tax on properties over $10 million. These increased monies will go to the general fund. See the text of the bill at: http://www.capitol.hawaii.gov/session2009/bills/HB1741_SD1_.pdf