Tuesday, July 23, 2024
Hawai'i Free Press

Current Articles | Archives

Sunday, November 5, 2023
Crossing the Rubicon Again
By Tom Yamachika @ 5:00 AM :: 1675 Views :: Ethics, Development, Taxes

Crossing the Rubicon Again

by Tom Yamachika, President, Tax Foundation Hawaii

When we were in the midst of the COVID-19 pandemic and Governor Ige was peppering us with emergency proclamations early and often, we at the Tax Foundation accepted that the Governor had emergency authority but questioned some of the things it was being used on. For example, we were one of several nonprofits to challenge his wholesale suspension of the open meeting laws and public records laws in his earlier proclamations.

We saved our harsher criticisms, however, until the Governor “crossed the Rubicon” by suspending tax laws. We argued that the Governor had no business suspending tax laws—at that time, to scoop up the hotel room tax money that was supposed to go to the counties.

Recently, Governor Green did the same thing. In his Fourth Emergency Proclamation on Homelessness, he suspended the General Excise Tax as it related to vendors involved in the design, construction, sale, lease, or financing of housing projects designed to provide rapid relief to the homeless.

The idea, apparently, was to provide vendors involved with the development of housing for the homeless the same tax exemption that is already provided for affordable housing.  A state agency (the HHFDC) would have to sign off on the project just as it does for other affordable housing projects.

If that was the idea, then, it seems to us that it would be easier and cleaner for the HHFDC to conclude, whether or not Governor Green told it to come to that conclusion, that the homeless housing projects qualified as affordable housing under the existing tax laws. That way there is less tension with the Legislature, who under our system of government is supposed to have the power to tax and spend, and thus to grant exemptions from the tax laws.

Further, under the existing proclamation it is difficult to connect taxation with an emergency. Even if we accept the premise that our current level of homelessness is an emergency and that we need to get housing built pronto, tax really doesn’t figure into the equation if the government is paying for the housing anyway. If the tax is suspended, the housing costs $100 and the government pays $100. If the tax applies, the housing costs $104.17, the government pays that amount, and it gets $4.17 back in taxes. It’s still out the same amount, $100. And if the housing is being paid for privately, the willingness of developers to use their talents to help the homeless situation will probably depend more on the regulatory environment, namely how long and at what cost the necessary permits can be secured.

The emergency powers statute, HRS section 127A-13(a), allows for suspension of “any law that impedes or tends to impede or be detrimental to the expeditious and efficient execution of, or to conflict with, emergency functions,” and allows the Governor to “[r]elieve hardships and inequities, or obstructions to the public health, safety, or welfare, found by the governor to exist in the laws and to result from the operation of federal programs or measures taken under this chapter, by suspending the laws, in whole or in part.”  Can someone tell me which of these legal requirements is met by the suspension of GET as it relates to vendors designing, building, selling, or leasing housing to the homeless?



TEXT "follow HawaiiFreePress" to 40404

Register to Vote


Aloha Pregnancy Care Center


Antonio Gramsci Reading List

A Place for Women in Waipio

Ballotpedia Hawaii

Broken Trust

Build More Hawaiian Homes Working Group

Christian Homeschoolers of Hawaii

Cliff Slater's Second Opinion

DVids Hawaii


Fix Oahu!

Frontline: The Fixers

Genetic Literacy Project

Grassroot Institute


Hawaii Aquarium Fish Report

Hawaii Aviation Preservation Society

Hawaii Catholic TV

Hawaii Christian Coalition

Hawaii Cigar Association

Hawaii ConCon Info

Hawaii Debt Clock

Hawaii Defense Foundation

Hawaii Family Forum

Hawaii Farmers and Ranchers United

Hawaii Farmer's Daughter

Hawaii Federation of Republican Women

Hawaii History Blog

Hawaii Jihadi Trial

Hawaii Legal News

Hawaii Legal Short-Term Rental Alliance

Hawaii Matters

Hawaii Military History

Hawaii's Partnership for Appropriate & Compassionate Care

Hawaii Public Charter School Network

Hawaii Rifle Association

Hawaii Shippers Council

Hawaii Together


Hiram Fong Papers

Homeschool Legal Defense Hawaii

Honolulu Navy League

Honolulu Traffic

House Minority Blog

Imua TMT

Inouye-Kwock, NYT 1992

Inside the Nature Conservancy

Inverse Condemnation

July 4 in Hawaii

Land and Power in Hawaii

Lessons in Firearm Education

Lingle Years

Managed Care Matters -- Hawaii


Missile Defense Advocacy

MIS Veterans Hawaii

NAMI Hawaii


National Parents Org Hawaii

NFIB Hawaii News

NRA-ILA Hawaii


OHA Lies

Opt Out Today

Patients Rights Council Hawaii

Practical Policy Institute of Hawaii

Pritchett Cartoons

Pro-GMO Hawaii


Rental by Owner Awareness Assn

Research Institute for Hawaii USA

Rick Hamada Show

RJ Rummel

School Choice in Hawaii


Talking Tax

Tax Foundation of Hawaii

The Real Hanabusa

Time Out Honolulu

Trustee Akina KWO Columns


West Maui Taxpayers Association

What Natalie Thinks

Whole Life Hawaii