Sunday, February 23, 2020
Hawai'i Free Press

Current Articles | Archives

Sunday, April 15, 2012
Zenith Reached in Earmarking of Unrelated Fund Sources
By Lowell L Kalapa @ 6:51 AM :: 3653 Views :: Energy, Environment


by Lowell L. Kalapa, Tax Foundation of Hawaii

One of the reasons why there is growing taxpayer cynicism about the work of lawmakers is the earmarking of revenues for specific programs which in many respects has little relationship to the source of the funding or are certain to shrink in direct proportion to the need for the funding.

What, might you say, do you mean? Take, for example, that a portion of the cigarette tax goes for the funding of the cancer research center and community health centers. On one hand, advocates of smoking cessation argue that higher and higher cigarette taxes will make it more and more expensive to smoke and it will discourage current smokers from continuing to smoke as well as youth from ever starting to smoke. Advocates argue that smokers increase the cost of health care to society so they should be asked to pay for the increased costs.

However, where this argument begins to fall apart is when one realizes that if the higher taxes and, therefore, the higher cost of the product actually does discourage folks from smoking, then there should be a decline in consumption. Certainly the decline will become more acute as the cigarette tax is pushed even higher and current smokers either quit smoking or die from diseases caused by smoking. Should that happen, collections from the tax will also begin to decline and those community centers and the cancer research center will see a decline in funding for their purposes.

Should that happen, what then will lawmakers do to replace the lost funding for the community centers and the cancer research center? Will lawmakers tell clients and workers in the cancer research center and the community centers, “Too bad, so sad, but there is not enough funding and we have to lay you off.” Of course not, they will go into other pots for loose change to keep the centers open. If there isn’t any loose change lying around, it will give lawmakers just one more justification to raise taxes.

Another example of why taxpayers continue to grow cynical about lawmakers is the dollar tax per barrel of petroleum products imported into the state. Initially the tax started out as a nickel per barrel the purpose of which was to create a $7 million emergency fund to clean up any potential spill of petroleum products and should a spill occur, there would be money immediately available to clean up such a damaging spill. When that $7 million cap was reached, the nickel per barrel would stop and be collected again only when the balance fell below that amount. Ah, but the administrators of the fund got greedy and decided to use the proceeds for all sorts of things including trips to get “training,” filing cabinets, and other office equipment. After all, they argued, they had to know how to deal with such spills.

And if that wasn’t enough, advocates decided to expand the uses of the fund to include violations of the clean water act and non-point source pollution of surface waters. This included any kind of pollutants beside those from petroleum products. At the same time, the cap was removed so that the tax could be collected on a permanent basis. Thus, the fund became more than just an emergency reserve fund, but a part of funding regular government operations.

More recently lawmakers looked to the “barrel tax” as the source to fund energy independence and food security. Citing the need for petroleum dependent Hawaii to get off fossil fuels and to insure that Hawaii residents would have a sustainable food supply that was clean and safe to eat, lawmakers slapped another dollar on all barrels of petroleum products imported into the state.

The problem was that while those who pushed for the additional dollar per barrel claimed that this was akin to “motherhood and apple pie” for the energy independence and security of the food we eat, lawmakers immediately redirected 60 cents of every dollar into the state general fund to underwrite shortfalls in the education, social services, health and public safety budgets. So much for energy independence and food security!

When one stops to think about it, what does a barrel of petroleum products have to do with a slug crawling over a lettuce leaf in Puna? So much for food security! Again, so much for the relevancy between the source of the revenue and the program it is to fund.

Finally, this session the push is on to levy a tax on single-use bags where retailers would prefer to slap that charge on their customers in order to change customers’ habits. But where does the money go - not to the recycling program but to the environmental response fund and to the department of land and natural resources. Again, nothing more than a money grab for a bigger government that taxpayers cannot afford.

- 30 -


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