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Tuesday, May 5, 2009
May 5, 2009 News Read
By Andrew Walden @ 6:57 AM :: 7234 Views

Lingle invites public to watch her veto bills raising Hawaii taxes

Gov. Linda Lingle, trying to tap into populist anger over higher taxes, yesterday invited the public to join her at the state Capitol on Thursday afternoon when she plans to veto bills that would raise taxes.

The governor will either allow people to watch her veto the bills in her fifth-floor offices or, if the crowd is too large, outside in the rotunda.

Lingle will veto bills that raise state income taxes on the wealthy, increase the hotel-room tax, and hike the conveyance tax on luxury homes. The governor is still reviewing whether to veto tax increases on cigarettes and other tobacco products.

The tax increases would generate $250 million to help close the deficit in the state's two-year budget and $800 million over the six-year financial plan.

Lingle accused majority Democrats of delaying economic recovery with the tax increases. The Republican governor also faulted Democrats for failing to reach agreement on her "recreational renaissance" initiative to improve state parks, trails and small-boat harbors, and on a bill that would have banned new fossil fuel power plants.

SB: Governor to reject bills increasing taxes

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Lingle blasts lawmakers on demise of parks bill

Although Lingle's version of the recreational renaissance program was never heard, House members amended a Senate bill to include many of the proposals. Senate Bill 636 advanced out of the House before being stalled in conference committee.

Senate Water, Land and Hawaiian Affairs Chairman Clayton Hee (D, Kahuku-Kaneohe) said lawmakers' work on balancing the budget occupied most of their time as Friday's midnight deadline approached. The main budget bill was finalized Friday afternoon, at which point lawmakers spent the rest of the day and evening figuring out which ancillary spending bills would survive the cut.

"A lot of the issues, in addition to (SB 636), took a back seat," Hee said. "We simply ran out of time dealing with the budget," he said

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Advertiser: Hotel room tax hike is disastrous move

Raising the TAT would be disastrous. Why? Because it would raise the cost of vacationing in Hawai'i, thus further cutting the flow of visitors. This would lead to more layoffs and higher unemployment, not only in hotels but at the thousands of small businesses that supply the hotels. Retailers, attractions and restaurants that enhance the visitor experience already have experienced double-digit decreases in business.

Raising the TAT could also push total tax collections down, thanks to the further economic decline it would trigger.

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Ted Hong: Folks, hold on to your wallets

Our Legislature is controlled by people who have never faced economic challenges like the one we're facing now. In 2009, they have finally come to face the harsh realization that there just isn't enough money to spend on everything they used to spend it on. So they will fall back to what they know, which is raise our taxes.
The stage is set for the largest tax increase in the history of this state. First, in a few days, the Council on Revenue will hold its final meeting before the end of the legislative session. That meeting will reveal how much more the state will lose in revenue. It will be worse than previously thought. All plans made up to this point will be thrown out the window.

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Cayetano backs civil unions

HONOLULU – Former Governor Ben Cayetano expressed his support for HB 444 HD1, the civil unions bill, in a new interview released this month.  Cayetano discussed the bill and his belief that all of Hawai‘i’s families need and deserve equal protection under the law. The new interview was conducted by Kat Brady of Equal Justice For All, and produced by Henry Curtis of Life of the Land.

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Advertiser: Protect right to secret ballot

House Bill 952 makes it easier to form unions by allowing a "card-check" system that could supercede the long-established practice of the secret ballot. It goes for a final vote at the Legislature today.

It's a bad idea.

HB 952 allows a simple majority of those who've signed an authorization card to form a union. No voting required. It also sets deadlines for the parties to negotiate a collective bargaining agreement.

It's little comfort that the bill applies to employers with annual gross revenues of $5 million or more — roughly 2.5 percent of businesses in the state. Voting is an individual right overseen by the National Labor Relations Board. It should not be weakened, regardless of a company's size.

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Advertiser: Oil tax fund invests in Isle energy future

The difficulty even with successful investments is that the investor has to take the pain long before any payout rolls in.

(And the difficulty with the barrel of oil tax is that the taxpayers are forced to be to so-called investors and Hawaii State government is in no way even remotely qualified to direct investment in cleaner energy technologies--which means there won't be a payout.)

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Kauai County Council meeting in secret

The operation of the County Attorney’s office has for some time been of concern to observers of our County government. The apprehensions were enhanced when the County Attorney appointed by former Mayor Baptiste decreed that all expressions by her office were covered by attorney client privilege and should not be made public unless the receiving county officials waived the privilege.

The County Attorney then constructed a set of issues designed to prevent any such waiver. The end result is that members of the public in Kauai have no information about the legal advice that county officials are getting.

This condition was spotlighted by the song and dance that occurred at the Kauai County Council until recently about whether the Council was lawfully acting when it went into executive sessions in apparent violation of Section 3.07 of the County Charter, which permitted such sessions only when related to claims against the County.

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