Good grief, do our lawmakers not know we're in a depression?
The Grassroot Institute is standing firm against every proposal in the 2021 Legislature that would increase Hawaii's tax burden
From Grassroot Institute, February 25, 2021
Hawaii is in its worst economic depression, but that hasn't stopped some of our lawmakers from proposing bill after bill in the current legislative session that would make life more difficult for Hawaii residents already struggling to survive.
In some cases we are being told that the tax proposals would apply to only the rich or out-of-state tourists or investors. Other tax increases would be for our own good or to save the planet — which seems tone deaf at a time when so many people would be happy to just have a job.
Whatever the reasons, none of the proposals deserve support, and the Grassroot Institute of Hawaii has been making it a point to say so. So far the institute has recommended against enacting tax bills:
>> HB771, which would establish a three-year surcharge on the state’s existing liquor tax.
>> SB871, which would increase the conveyance tax rate on condominiums and single-family residences for which the purchaser is ineligible for a county homeowner’s exemption on property tax.
>> SB155, which would establish a peer-to-peer car-sharing surcharge tax.
>> HB1388, which would eliminate the home mortgage interest deduction for second homes under Hawaii income tax law.
>> SB666 SD1, which would establish a surcharge of $20 on transient accommodations for the purpose of funding workforce and services that promote certain environmental goals.
>> HB1142, which would establish a surcharge on the sale of high-end gasoline-powered vehicles.
>> HB433, which would assess a climate change impact fee on anyone who rents, leases, or utilizes a rental motor vehicle.
>> HB133, which would increase the capital gains tax threshold to 9%.
>> HB445, which would amend the exclusion amount of Hawaii’s estate tax.
>> HB476, which would impose a 50% excise tax on the wholesale price of every wholesaler for each modified risk tobacco product sold, used or possessed by a wholesaler, and establish taxation of e-liquids used in electronic smoking devices and require licensing and permits for wholesalers and retailers of such products.
>> HB485, which would increase the rental motor vehicle surcharge to an as-yet unspecified amount.
"These proposals come at an especially bad time," said Joe Kent, institute executive vice president, in testimony on each of these bills. "The state is still in a state of emergency, tourism has slowed to a trickle, businesses are closing and unemployment is high. The economy will take years to recover from the pandemic and lockdowns. The last thing Hawaii residents and businesses need at this point is a tax hike.
"If the state needs more revenues," Kent said, "policymakers should focus on growing the economy. In our current condition, even small economic gains would have big effects."
'JUST SAY NO'
In related news …
As we've said before, there actually are some good bills being considered this year. Among those we have supported in testimony are:
>> SB134 SD1, which would prohibit the governor or mayor from suspending requests for public records or vital statistics during a declared state of emergency.
Our take: "Open government is not only at the core of our constitutional principles, it is also essential to uphold public faith in our leaders, their decision-making and in the democratic process."
>> HB224 HD1, which would exempt special treatment facilities, psychiatric services and chronic renal dialysis services from the state’s “certificate of need” requirements.
Our take: "If enacted, this bill would take an important step toward addressing Hawaii’s ongoing difficulties with health care affordability and access. By creating exemptions to the certificate-of-need requirements for certain facilities, you would improve both the quality and affordability of care for many Hawaii residents."
>> SB348, which would repeal the requirement that noncarbonated bottled water be transported, stored, processed, or bottled through lines or equipment through which only water is passed.
Our take: "We commend the Legislature for examining ways in which to reduce unnecessary regulation and provide new opportunities for local businesses."
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