Grassroot Asks Legislature to Stop Using the GET as a Fundraising Tool


DATELINE: February 11, 2016, Honolulu, Hawai`i
CONTACT: Kelsey Meehan, (808) 591-9193, kmeehan@grassrootinstitute.org

Grassroot Asks Legislature to Stop Using the GET as a Fundraising Tool

Watchdog group offers comments on two separate bills that would raise taxes 

HONOLULU, HAWAII–February 11, 2016–The Grassroot Institute is urging legislators to consider different ways of raising revenue for the state rather than relying on raising the general excise tax to pay for new initiatives. In comments on two separate bills being heard this week, the watchdog group offered testimony demonstrating that the state’s regressive GET places a heavy burden on the economy and the least fortunate and cautioned that continually raising the tax could have dire consequences.

Grassroot offered testimony on two bills before the Senate, SB 2478, which envisions a 0.5% surcharge to pay for a long-term care benefits program and SB 2599, which would raise the GET from 4% to 5% in order to pay for a series of education initiatives.

“Hawaii’s regressive general excise tax is widely cited as one of the biggest detriments to small business and entrepreneurship in the state,” said Keli’i Akina, Ph.D., President of the Grassroot Institute. “Our state is regularly ranked at or near the bottom in national surveys of both the fairness and the economic desirability of our sales tax model. Not only does it act as a drag on the economy, but it hits the poor and disadvantaged harder than any other group, costing about 11% of the family income for the lowest 20% of earners.”

Dr. Akina continued: “Despite this, legislators regularly look to GET raises and surcharges as a way to pay for expensive new state initiatives. Yet, the data shows that raising consumption taxes is a tricky thing and does not guarantee an equivalent boon in revenue. While providing for the elderly and improving education are both worthy goals, we must look for new and innovative ways to accomplish reform. Asking the taxpayers of Hawaii to continually open their wallets for new projects is short-term thinking that will only lead to long-term budget problems.”

For more information or to arrange an interview, please contact Kelsey Meehan at (808) 591-9193 or email kmeehan@grassrootinstitute.org.

About the Grassroot Institute of Hawaii:
Grassroot Institute of Hawaii is a nonprofit, nonpartisan research institute dedicated to the principles of individual liberty, the free market, and limited, accountable government throughout Hawai`i and the Asia-Pacific region.  Read more about us athttps://www.grassrootinstitute.org/
Like us on Facebook: http://www.facebook.com/GrassrootInstitute
Donate to help us grow: http://tinyurl.com/GrassrootDonate
Tweet us at http://twitter.com/grassroothawaii

About Grassroot President:
Keli’i Akina, Ph.D.,  is a recognized scholar, educator, public policy spokesperson, and community leader in Hawaii.  Currently, he is President/CEO of Grassroot Institute of Hawaii, a public policy think tank dedicated to the principles of individual liberty, free markets and limited, accountable government.  An expert in East-West Philosophy and ethics, Dr. Akina has taught at universities in China and the United States and continues as an adjunct instructor at Hawaii Pacific University.  Dr. Akina was a candidate for Trustee at Large of the Office of Hawaiian Affairs in the 2014 General Election run-off.

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