Friday, February 28, 2020
Hawai'i Free Press

Current Articles | Archives

Sunday, March 19, 2017
A Constitutional Amendment for Education Wars, Part 2
By Tom Yamachika @ 5:01 AM :: 3200 Views :: Education K-12, Taxes

A Constitutional Amendment for Education Wars, Part 2

by Tom Yamachika, President, Tax Foundation Hawaii

Last week, we spoke of a bill in the legislature which, if passed by the legislature and approved by the voters in the 2018 general election, would authorize a substantial surcharge on real property to fund education.

Proponents of the bill will be strongly arguing to the Legislature to let the bill pass and let the voters decide its fate. Politicians can be strongly tempted by that argument. After all, if the amendment garners a majority vote of the people, then the politicians can’t be blamed for it, right?

Before that happens, we as voters need to be clear on exactly what we are voting for.

Now, two bills are moving through the legislature on this subject. One is the constitutional amendment, and the other is the implementing law. The law can be passed, but cannot become effective, without the constitutional amendment. The two bills are presented to legislators as a “package deal.” But only the constitutional amendment will be presented to the voters. According to the current version of SB 683, the voters will be asked, “Shall the legislature be authorized to establish, as provided by law, a surcharge on residential investment property and visitor accommodations to fund a public education for all of Hawaii's children?"

Let’s look at the question carefully. The voters are asked to give power to the Legislature to impose real property tax to fund education. The voters are not going to be asked to approve the details.

The current version of SB 686, the implementing legislation, would if approved impose a surcharge of $7.50 per $1,000 of property value on “residential investment” properties that are valued at $2 million or more. But wait. If the constitutional amendment is approved, there is no reason why legislators can’t change the implementing legislation. It could be the year the amendment is approved, or the next year, or the year after that. They can change it to impose the surcharge on all “residential investment” property regardless of value. They can change the surcharge rate. They can play with the definition of “residential investment” property, because the constitutional amendment bill doesn’t tell us what that kind of property is. They can do all of these things because the constitutional amendment has given the legislature this power.

In other words, once the amendment passes, the genie is out of the bottle.

We need to ask ourselves if we want to or need to give the genie that much power. If we do, then we only have ourselves to blame for what happens when the genie does come out. If we don’t, then we should either kill the constitutional amendment or write strict limits into it.

Think of it this way. The constitutional amendment is the expression of what We the People are allowing our government to do to us. If we trust our legislature to exercise absolute power responsibly, then it may be okay to give the legislature absolute power. But if we don’t, we need to understand that it’s much easier to not let the genie out of the bottle, than it is to try stuffing the genie back into the bottle once it’s out.


Related: A Constitutional Amendment for Education Wars, Part 1


TEXT "follow HawaiiFreePress" to 40404

Register to Vote


808 Silent Majority

808 State Update AM940


ACA Signups Hawaii



Alliance Defending Freedom

Aloha Life Advocates

Aloha Pregnancy Care Center

American Council of Trustees and Alumni

American Mothers of Hawaii



Antonio Gramsci Reading List

A Place for Women in Waipio

Astronomy Hawaii

Audit The Rail

Ballotpedia Hawaii

Better Hawaii 

Blaisdell Memorial Project

Broken Trust 

Build More Hawaiian Homes Working Group

CAFR Hawaii

Castaway Conservative

Children's Alliance Hawaii

Children's Rights Institute

Christian Homeschoolers of Hawaii

Citizens for Recall

Cliff Slater's Second Opinion

Coffee Break

CSIS Pacific Forum

DAR Hawaii

DVids Hawaii

E Hana Kakou Kelii Akina

E Māua Ola i Moku o Keawe

Farmers For Choice Hawaii


Fix Oahu!

Follow the Money Hawaii

Frank in Hawaii

Front Page Magazine

Frontline: The Fixers

Genetic Literacy Project

Get Off Your Butts!

God, Freedom, America

Grassroot Institute

Hawaii Aganst Assisted Suicide

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 Crime Victims' Rights

Hawaii Crop Improvement Association

Hawaii Debt Clock

Hawaii Defending Marriage

Hawaii Defense Foundation

Hawaii Families for Educational Choice

Hawaii Family Advocates

Hawaii Family Forum

Hawaii Farmers and Ranchers United

Hawaii Farmer's Daughter

Hawaii Federalist Society

Hawaii Federation of Republican Women

Hawaii Firearm Community

Hawaii Fishermen's Alliance

Hawaii Future Project

Hawaii Gathering of Eagles

Hawaii History Blog

Hawaii Homeschool Association

Hawaii Jihadi Trial

Hawaii March for Life

Hawaii Meth Project

Hawaii's Partnership for Appropriate & Compassionate Care

Hawaii Public Charter School Network

Hawaii Rifle Association

Hawaii Right to Life -- Big Island

Hawaii Right to Life -- Oahu

Hawaii Shield Law Coalition

Hawaii Shippers Council

Hawaii Smokers Alliance

Hawaii State Data Lab

Hawaii Together

Heritage Foundation

HI Coalition Against Legalized Gambling



Hiram Fong Papers

Homeschool Legal Defense Hawaii

Honolulu Homeless Crisis

Honolulu Navy League

Honolulu Traffic

Horns of Jericho Blog

House Minority Blog

House Republican Caucus YouTube


Hump Day Report

I Vote Hawaii

If Hawaii News

Imua TMT

Inouye-Kwock, NYT 1992

Inside the Nature Conservancy

Inverse Condemnation

Investigative Project on Terrorism

Iowa Meets Maui

Jackson v Abercrombie

Jihad Watch

Judgepedia Hawaii

July 4 in Hawaii

Kahle v New Hope

Kakaako Cares

Kau TEA Party

Kauai Co GOP

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

Mauna Kea Recreational Users Group

Middle East Forum--The Legal Project

Mililani Conservatives for Change

Military Home Educators' Network Oahu

Missile Defense Advocacy

MIS Veterans Hawaii

Muslim Brotherhood in America

NAMI Hawaii


National Christian Foundation Hawaii

National Parents Org Hawaii

National Wind Watch

New Zeal

NFIB Hawaii News

No GMO Means No Aloha

Northwest Economic Policy Seminar

Not Dead Yet, Hawaii

Now What I Really Think

NRA-ILA Hawaii

Oahu Alternative Transport

ObamaCare Abortion Hawaii


OHA Lies

Opt Out Today

Pacific Aviation Museum

Patients Rights Council Hawaii

PEACE Hawaii

People vs Machine

Pritchett Cartoons 

Pro-GMO Hawaii


Rental by Owner Awareness Assn

Republican Party -- Hawaii State

Research Institute for Hawaii USA

Rick Hamada Show

RJ Rummel

Robotics Organizing Committee

School Choice in Hawaii

SIFE Remington

SIFE W. Oahu 

Sink the Jones Act

Smart About Marijuana--Hawaii

St Marianne Cope

State Budget Solutions Hawaii

State Policy Network

Statehood for Guam

Tax Foundation of Hawaii

The Harriet Tubman Agenda

The Long War Journal

The Real Hanabusa

Time Out Honolulu

Trustee Akina KWO Columns

Truth About Trade & Technology - Hawaii

UCC Truths

Union Members Know Your Rights

US Tax Foundation Hawaii Info

Valor in the Pacific

VAREP Honolulu

West Maui Taxpayers Association

What Natalie Thinks

Whole Life Hawaii