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Sunday, November 29, 2009
November 29, 2009 News Read
By Andrew Walden @ 1:43 PM :: 6675 Views

ADV: State must not let furlough talks flounder (We need to shift blame back to the Governor)

Here's what the general public sees:

• Gov. Linda Lingle has proposed a combination of spending rainy-day funds and converting so-called teacher "waiver" days to classroom use. This, she said, would restore much of the academic calendar to students hurt by the loss of instruction on furlough days set in the current teachers' contract.

• Officials of the Hawaii State Teachers Association, now in talks about revising that contract, say they don't like key parts of Lingle's plan, especially the potential loss of all those waiver days, which are used for planning.

The public can't be blamed if the first phrase that comes to mind is: "Here we go again."  (No the public is saying: "Blame the unions") 

That (blaming the unions) can't be allowed to happen. (Says the Democrat Advertiser, deeply concerned that the Governor's move has shifted the locus of blame back to the HSTA.)

Surely there's room for compromise between these two positions. (Or else the Democrat legislature will have this mess left in its lap in Jan)

The governor needs to consider alternative approaches to funding the furlough buyback plan.  (TAX INCREASES) Teachers should accept the fact that it won't be situation-normal for the coming difficult fiscal years.

PRECISELY AS PREDICTED: Furlough negotiations: $50M ransom offered, but unions balk at releasing hostages , DoE Procurement audit: Millions wasted by "fraudulent unethical behavior" , Audit: DoE instructor salaries diverted to "operating expenditure, supplies, and capital items" , Audit: DoE funding at risk over 3,800 bogus Hawaii teachers' licenses

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SB: Jobless insurance deficit to spark tenfold tax hike

Natalie Iwasa, a self-employed certified public accountant, paid $90 in state unemployment compensation taxes last year. Iwasa's bill will rise to $1,100 in March to make up for a shortfall in the fund, which pays benefits to out-of-a-job workers.

Employers, who are currently paying an average of $90 per employee a year in unemployment insurance taxes, can expect to pay an average of $1,070 per employee.

State legislators, including Rep. Karl Rhoads and Sen. Sam Slom, are working on legislative relief and the DLIR has identified about 10 alternatives, which can be reviewed online at www.hawaii.gov/labor/ui/taxalternatives .

Two of the most popular alternatives require the state to borrow millions from the federal government, Ching said. Loans are interest-free the first year, but 4.76 percent interest is charged if repayment takes longer, he said.

Raise Taxes...To pay unemployment...To people laid off...Because higher taxes...Forced businesses...To lay off employees.

ADV: Hawaii jobless fund may require tax hike

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Reviews by state may delay Honolulu's rail transit plans

(This story starts with 8 paragraphs of "blame Lingle" rhetoric.)

Lingle's statement last week comes days or weeks before she's expected to receive the final environmental impact statement for the project. Her signature is required for the EIS to be released and the project to move forward. City officials hope to break ground about five weeks after the final environmental impact study is released.

Lingle, speaking Monday on the Mike Buck radio show on KHVH, said the need for a thorough review is partially prompted by lower tax collections resulting from the economic downturn. Tax collections needed to build Honolulu's planned elevated rail transit line have been declining.

It's unclear whether Lingle's concerns also are partially driven by the March shutdown of the Hawaii Superferry service. That project initially sidestepped the required environmental impact study only to be halted by the courts....

"Our comments from the agencies are more of a technical nature and (concern) the impacts to our facilities," Morioka said. "She wants to make sure she knows fully what she's signing off on, and what the comfort level is that they met all the requirements for the environmental review. She just wants to do her own due diligence.

"We all know there's a very good possibility of the rail project being taken to court, so I think the more credibility the document has, the better chance it has in standing up in a court of law."

PRECISELY AS PREDICTED: Good News: A small elite no longer runs Hawaii -- Bad news Mufi thinks he can change that

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A Ponzi scheme for Hawaii: How the public can invest in our future

(ADV gives space to an ACT 221 subsidy pig trying to get his snout back in the trough)

The People's Investment Fund would give us a chance to find new confidence. It would allow us to invest in Hawai'i's startup and middle-tier companies, showcase our talent, hold on to our young people and allow them to pursue their dreams at home. It would also give us a chance to make some money.

Act 221 was for sophisticated investors and required accountants and lawyers; the People's Investment Fund would be open to investors from Polihale to Puna. Act 221 drew investment from offshore; the People's Investment Fund would be limited to local investors, who have the most to gain and lose.

Qualified investors would be limited to local residents and businesses. They would be permitted to invest no less than, say, $1,000 to avoid the inefficiency of smaller investments, and no more than, say, $50,000 to avoid domination by big players.

(Question: What prevents local companies from selling stock to local residents now???  Answer: Nothing.  So why do we need this fund?)

Let's assume the fund would be popular, and 50,000 local residents and businesses (less than 5 percent of the population) invest in it. If they each put in $1,000, the fund would have $50 million. If some people put in more than $1,000, it could go higher still.  

At first, we may want to try this without any tax benefits, without credits or deductions, since it's not likely that the Legislature will want to spend money for any tax incentive in 2010. But if the Legislature wanted to make the dividends tax free, I doubt the community would stand in the way. After all, the successful companies funded with these investments will be paying plenty of taxes. 

(Everybody knows that most ACT 221 companies never intended to make any money, they just burned thru their investment capital and disappeared--and the "investors" didn't care because they got 2-1 swap for Hawaii tax credits.  Now Fidell wants to get the little guy in on the scam?  This is a Ponzi scheme.)

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Kalapa: Vanquish the special fund

Starting in the late 1980s, lawmakers became increasingly enamored with the concept of special funds. Initially, these special funds were created as hiding places for excess general fund revenues as the state realized a windfall of tax revenues from the imposition of the transient accommodations tax and personal income tax rates that were not reduced sufficiently after adopting the base broadening provisions of the 1986 Federal Tax Reform Act.

By the mid-1990s, lawmakers thought the creation of these special funds was a prudent move as they raided them to make-up shortfalls in the general fund budget. However, as the financial picture worsened, they turned once again to the special fund concept to cover the costs of programs that would have to have been eliminated for the lack of funds. Lawmakers resorted to imposing new user fees or increasing existing user fees and charges and then earmarking the receipts for a special fund.

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Homeless family finds language, new culture additional barricade

She came from a small community on the island of Weno in the Chuuk state, where it was common for people to live with their relatives, she said.

"It had no more homeless people. I come here, I see plenty people homeless," she said.

And now Jack and her family are homeless, part of an influx of Micronesian immigrants whom social service case workers have seen at shelters throughout Hawaii in the past several years.

Jack, her boyfriend and four children, ages 1 through 6, have been living at the Onemalu Transitional Shelter in Kalaeloa since June.

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Kauai County Manager: Let the people decide

The latest county manager proposal was stalled due to legal concerns over its potential infringement on our system of checks and balances. If we’re worried about this being corroded if the mayor is essentially replaced by a council-appointed manager, shouldn’t we be worried about the undue influence the mayor-appointed county attorney has over the council?
This is a representative republic, not a pure democracy. We delegate our authority to our elected leaders so they may act on our behalf. We retain the power of the election and even the power of recall when appropriate.
But there are some issues that require full democratic participation and cannot simply be left to the existing power structure to decide. The system by which we are governed is one of those special cases.

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Kauai Police chief welcomes ‘constructive criticism’

“The chief needs to work on the overtime payments,” one commissioner wrote in the financial/budget category.
“Chief Perry has led the department out of the dark ages,” another commissioner wrote.

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