Well, it’s Christmas season again, so here is what I drafted recently for Santa to consider:
We at the Grassroot Institute of Hawaii were very good this past year about defending the free market. We helped educate policymakers, stood for transparency and always, always spoke out about poorly framed tax hikes. So, if it’s not asking too much, please this Christmas bring us …
A modernization of the Jones Act, to bring it into the 21st century. I’m afraid the Jones Act has become terribly outdated and cumbersome. It handcuffs businesses and has added to the cost of living in Hawaii. If nothing else, could you at least add a modification of the build requirement that would let us buy ships from our allies?
A balanced budget that includes a plan to deal with Hawaii’s unfunded public pension liabilities. The state frequently spends more than it receives, and its considerable unfunded liabilities mean that we are walking slowly toward a public pension crisis. We need bold action, like the hybrid plans and other suggestions in our recent pension report — options that would save the pensions of state employees without deepening our debt.
Greater economic freedom and lower taxes. Hawaii hasn’t done well on comparative surveys of economic freedom or outlook, and one of the biggest problems is our high tax rates. Both the general excise tax and the top marginal personal income tax rate are among the worst (if not the absolute worst) in the nation. Both businesses and working families could really use some tax relief.
Less red tape. We’re beginning to suspect that someone in the Hawaii government keeps asking for red tape in their Christmas stockings because we seem to get more and more of it each year. This Christmas, we’d like to see some of it disappear completely. And other attempts to handcuff businesses — whether through regulation or measures like a minimum-wage hike — should be stopped.
More transparency and accountability. It may be strange to be asking for more sunshine for Hawaii, but some things — especially the Honolulu rail project — could really use a strong dose of sunshine, followed by a thorough audit.
Peace on earth and goodwill to all.
Thank you in advance, Santa, and if you could remember to help us make Hawaii more free and prosperous, we would really appreciate that, too.
As for you, our Grassroot Institute of Hawaii friends and supporters, thank you for your continued friendship and generosity, and a very happy holiday season to you all.