Rep. Ward calls on Legislators Not to Follow Speaker Souki's call to fund rail
News Release from Office of Rep Gene Ward (R-Hawaii Kai) January 19, 2017
Honolulu - Representative Gene Ward, who represents District 17, Hawaii Kai, Kalama Valley, and also serves as Minority Leader Emeritus, will ask his colleagues at the State Capitol not to support House Speaker Joe Souki’s plans to make the half-percent general excise tax surcharge for the Honolulu rail project a permanent fixture in our tax code.
“Increasing taxes would hurt Hawaii's most vulnerable citizens and negatively impact Hawaii's economic recovery," said Representative Ward.
A PFM Group report titled Study of the Hawai‘i Tax System: Final Report, supported the elimination of the .5 percent GET & Use Tax rate on business-to-business transactions. In Hong Kong, in exchange for development rights along the rail route for shopping centers, condos and retail stores, the government raised sufficient private money to build the rail. The Mass Transit Railway Corporation was originally government owned, but was eventually privatized, with government as its major shareholder.
“Not one penny more for rail." Ward added, "We’ve got to wake up and sell development rights along the rail, like they do in Japan and Hong Kong. We’ve been short sighted, and it’s time for a feasible alternative to tax increases.”
The increase of a permanent tax would be a detriment to individuals and businesses. Rather than exploring ways to increase tax collection, government spending should be curtailed and be done in a smarter and more efficient manner. A more business-friendly environment would help companies conduct business thereby growing the economy and helping the people of Hawai‘i.
“We need to improve the tax system efficiency and reduce taxes,” concluded Ward.
Background: Privatize: Honolulu Can See Its Rail Line Finished Without Raising Taxes