Community Viewpoint

Legislature with ‘U R’ Missing

This week, I was inspired by a sign on the First Baptist Church on Pensacola Street here in Honolulu.  Their sign read, “CH _ _ C H – what’s missing?   U R !” If you take away “U R” from “CHURCH,” you are left with “CHCH,” which isn’t even a word.  Apparently, the point there is that the church isn’t …

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Rail: I Dunno About TAT

We are getting closer to the special session that our Legislature has scheduled to continue its discussion about funding Honolulu rail.  During this past session, the House and Senate were unable to agree on a common version of a bill to continue rail funding. The two chambers disagreed about whether to use our Transient Accommodations Tax (“TAT”).  The TAT is …

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VIEWPOINT: Mansions easier to build on Maui than apartments

Have you ever wondered why developers on Maui spend their time building mansions instead of affordable homes? At first glance, it would seem they could make more money building mansions, but that isn’t necessarily the case. Surprisingly, developers often make less money on mansions than if they were to build low-end or mid-level homes or apartments. Why? The reason is …

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VIEWPOINT: Ad regarding school bus service was self-serving and misleading

The beginning of every school year is a time of great excitement for students, parents and staff, that also brings new challenges to overcome. Each year, our bus contractors enable the safe delivery of approximately 40,000 students statewide every day. The Hawaii State Department of Education (HIDOE) recognizes that for 383 of its students on Maui these expectations were not …

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The Grand Skim of Things, Part 3

We continue our discussion about the 5% charge assessed against special funds in Hawaii government, also known as the “Central Services Skim.”  Last week, we examined the exemptions from the skim and the danger that the funds who are paying the assessments can claim that they are being gouged.  This week, we look at the one State department that has …

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The Grand Skim of Things, Part 2

Last week, we began a discussion about the 5% charge that is assessed against the “special funds” in Hawaii government, which we called the “Central Services Skim.”  For the last few fiscal years, the Central Services Skim has redirected about $45 million a year from the special funds to the state general fund, ostensibly to pay for shared services such …

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The Grand Skim of Things, Part 1

In this space, we have often spoken of funding government with “special funds.”  Special funds are pots of money dedicated to a specified purpose.  Money in the fund can be spent for the specified purpose without going through the general appropriation process at the Legislature.  Agencies love them because they can spend money without interference by meddlesome lawmakers.  Supporters of …

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Universal Basic Income: “If you don’t work, you don’t eat?”

Growing up in these islands, I always heard the part-Hawaiian proverb that describes a very simple work ethic: “No hanahana, no kaukau.”  Meaning: if you don’t work, you don’t eat. Recently, some very notable people including Mark Zuckerberg of Facebook have been championing the idea of “universal basic income,” which basically is a payment from the government to individuals simply …

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Hawaii Earned Income Tax Credit: Devil in the Details

On July 10, 2017, Governor Ige proudly signed House Bill 209, a bill that establishes a Hawaii earned income tax credit (HI-EITC for short).  The EITC has been described as “a federal tax credit that helps families work their way into the middle class.  Since its inception in 1975, the federal EITC has been hailed as the most effective anti-poverty …

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Community Viewpoint: Carving Up the Price of Car Rentals

One of the legislative bills that is now being considered by Gov. David Ige is a curious bill, HB 735, involving the car rental industry.  The bill doesn’t seek to impose new taxes or fees upon rental cars.  Instead, it affects how car rental businesses can show these fees on rental car invoices as separate line items. Hawaii Revised Statutes …

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