“Finally! It’s about time someone in state government stood up for the taxpayer,” said President Jamie Story of the Grassroot Institute of Hawaii as she watched Governor Linda Lingle veto several tax bills from the State Legislature. “Government should look in the mirror rather than to the taxpayer to put its fiscal house in order. As we’ve seen in the past, the very first thing our legislature attempts to do is raise taxes rather than cut expenses,” she said. The first half of the 25th Legislative session ended on May 8th.
The Governor invited citizens to join her at the state capitol last week to witness her vetoing the measures and several hundred people did so. Among the bills axed are:
• SB1111, which increases the Transient Accommodations Tax by 28 percent.
• HB1741, increasing by a whopping 257 percent the home buyers conveyance tax for residential and commercial real estate transactions over $2 million.
• HB1747, attempting to increase the personal income tax rate on over 35,000 small businesses across the state.
“We applaud the Governor for recognizing the detrimental effects these tax increases would have on the families and businesses of Hawaii.” said Story. “The state’s budget problem should not be solved by targeting one industry or segment of the population.”
For example, state cigarette taxes have been raised six out of the past seven years in Hawaii. With these new taxes passed, state and federal cigarette taxes will total about four dollars per pack in 2011. The Governor also vetoed the new cigarette tax. However, the next day, the Democratic majority in the Hawaii State Legislature overrode all of the Governor’s vetoes.
“A great highlight of this session was that SB659, which would require the Department of Accounting and General Services to post contracts worth over $25,000, passed out of the finance committee. The Grassroot Institute submitted testimony in support of this key transparency legislation,” explained Policy Analyst Pearl Hahn. “Other states such as Missouri, Kansas, and South Carolina have launched searchable databases of government spending. Launching such a website in Hawaii would go a long way in restoring citizens’ faith in government accountability and encourage fiscal responsibility.” GRIH testified on several bills during the session.