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Taxes, Housing, Energy: High Costs Driving People out of Hawaii
By Keli'i Akina PhD @ 6:30 PM :: 1452 Views :: Cost of Living

Akina laments legislative fondness for tax increases

from Grassroot Institute of Hawaii, February 22, 2024

The latest push by Hawaii legislators to add a $25 “check-in” fee to the state’s transient accommodations tax is an example of “the irony of elected office,” according to Grassroot Institute of Hawaii President Keliʻi Akina. 

During his latest chat with radio host Rick Hamada on NewsRadio 830 KHVH, Akina said: “We elect people in order to advance our well-being, advance our economy, and they propose things that ultimately kill the goose that lays the golden eggs.” 

He said another “bad” tax proposal under consideration at the Legislature would increase the state’s conveyance tax for homes worth $3 million or more, which would hurt investment. 

But he said not all tax laws are bad. One measure he said he likes — “because it has to do with helping out people” — is Gov. Josh Green’s proposal to index the state’s income tax brackets to inflation.

“Over the last two decades, most residents in Hawaii have been pushed up two brackets just due to inflation,” he said. “That means you’re not making any more money, but you’re being taxed a lot more for the money that you’re making. … And it sends a lot of people out of the state.”

However, he added, the primary reason residents are “leaving Hawaii in record numbers” is the high cost of housing — which is “the result of 50 years of bad policy.”

He said Green’s attempt to lift some of those policies via emergency order was “well-motivated,” but because the governor whittled down the order in response to opposition, “the kinds of relief from regulation that would have helped … are simply not there.” 

During his 13-minute conversation with Hamada, Akina also touched on the fact that the state’s energy policies are also at the heart of driving up the cost of living, and he applauded Hawaii’s recent deregulation of cryptocurrency.

Akina ended with a reminder that “your legislators need to hear from you” if common sense is to prevail this session, and said information about how to get involved can be found at the Grassroot Institute’s website.

To hear the interview, click on the video below.  

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