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It’s alive! Notorious tax bill SB56 reemerges as ‘Frankenbill’ HB58

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Keli’i Akina rode with ‘Perry & The Posse” again today on KSSK 92.3 FM radio, and the topic was how “dead parts” from the notorious tax bill SB56 have been stitched together again as part of HB58.

Hawaii’s most popular morning radio host, Michael W. Perry, expressed amazement that our senators would be so bold.

“It’s on National Doctors Day,” Perry said. “I guess we should be talking about all the taxes that are gonna get raised and we will have fewer doctors. … What are they thinking? There’s a little transparency that has to happen here. And nobody likes this. You don’t raise taxes at a time like this.”

Responded Akina: “Well, Michael, there’s no transparency here. The public has been caught off guard. It bypasses the legislative process. It’s a form of ramming bad ideas through the system before the end of session. And if you blinked, and thought that the other bill was dead, you blinked too long, because it’s very much alive, or many parts of it are very much alive.”

The bill was initially heard on March 30, 2021, by the Senate Committee on Ways and Means, which deferred it until today, April 1, 2021. Considering the entire Senate previously approved SB56 unanimously, the chances are good that HB58 SD1 also will survive, after which it will go to Senate-House conference committee. Then we will see what happens.

Let your favorite legislators know how you feel about more taxes at a time when modern Hawaii is experiencing is worst economic crisis ever.

Read the complete transcript below.

3-30-21 Keli‘i Akina interviewed by Michael W. Perry on KSSK 92.3 FM

Michael W. Perry: KSSK Radio. I don’t know if you’ve been following what’s happening. Our Legislature, for some reason … I have this thing. I love our legislators, I really do. They are the nicest people one-on-one, but they get together and they make these weird decisions. Like, “I know how we’re going to get ourselves out of this ridiculous pandemic hole that the state — we’re going to raise taxes on it.” People don’t have any money to pay the taxes. What a great idea, right? 

Our friend comes through for us when we need him most to explain things. Keli’i Akina, Dr. Akina, is the president of the Grassroot Institute of Hawaii. It’s the think tank that actually does a lot of great thinking. Keli’i, welcome to us this morning.

Keli’i Akina: Good morning, Michael. You’re too kind. Aloha to you and all the listeners.

Perry: On National Doctors’ Day, I guess we should be talking about all the taxes that are going to get raised, and we’ll have fewer doctors. 

We thought this tax bill had just died a well-deserved death in the Legislature, but it looks like that took all the dead parts, and they’re doing a Frankenstein thing on them, and they were about to electrify the monster. What is going on at the square building?

Akina: Our lawmakers were embarrassed enough to kill SB56, which was a doozy. It would have raised Hawaii’s income taxes, conveyance taxes, capital gain taxes, corporate income taxes, and repeal a number of general excise-tax exemptions on businesses. The good news is that bill is dead. But lawmakers took pieces of that bill and stitched them together to form another bill called HB58. We call it the Frankenstein bill since they’re stitching together bills that create a new one, and it is very much alive.

Perry: What are they thinking? There’s a little transparency that has to happen here, and nobody likes this. You don’t raise taxes at a time like this.

Akina: Michael, there’s no transparency here. The public has been caught off-guard. It bypasses the legislative process. It’s a form of ramming bad ideas through the system before the end of session. If you blinked and thought that the other bill was dead, you blinked too long because it’s very much alive, or many parts of it are very much alive.

Perry: The Franken bill will only affect, some of these legislators say, “Oh no, this is only the wealthy and the businesses, like Robinhood. We’re going to take from the rich, give to the poor.” Is that going to work?

Akina: That’s the problem. That never works. Businesses and those individuals who create wealth are the ones who generate the jobs and the tax dollars that the middle class and the poor desperately need. If we keep raising taxes on the class that builds our economy, many businesses and individuals with wealth will either leave the state, like doctors, or move their money out of the state. This will damage our economic recovery at a time we can’t afford to do that. It’s also going to ultimately reduce tax revenues, cutting off state services that many residents rely upon. This Robinhood mentality just doesn’t work.

Perry: OK. It’s not. It never works, like you said. It never ever works. You can’t raise taxes on people who don’t have the money to pay it. Even the people that do have the money to pay it aren’t going to pay it for long. They’re going to go someplace where they don’t have to pay it. People vote with their feet, and we’re going to lose even more. The idea that we would raise taxes on the very income bracket the doctors fall into when we’re, what?  Are we 1,000 doctors short?

Akina: We have more than 1,000-doctor shortage in the state, especially on the Neighbor Islands, where you can’t find a specialist at all.

Perry: It’s National Doctors’ Day today. It’s ironic that today is the day that we’re going to make this a terrible state for a doctor to even consider working in, on National Doctors Day. 

Do you have a solution? What should the Legislature be doing instead of this Frankenstein bill?

Akina: Michael, it’s very simple. Read my lips: No new taxes. Lawmakers should not pass any new tax increases — that simple. Instead, we should focus on getting our economy back and running again by safely reducing barriers to travel so the economy can take off. Make Hawaii attractive for businesses and let Hawaii work. A growing economy is what Hawaii residents need, both rich and poor.

Perry: We need jobs. We need the jobs to come back. Our unemployment level is way too high. We got to do that, and they always have the wrong solution at the Legislature. That’s just so bad. 

There’s a public testimony thing happening. When is that? Tomorrow? Today? When?

Akina: Taking place today, and maybe this will all die out by tomorrow if people contact their legislators. Michael, thank you for posting our David Swann cartoon from the Grassroot Institute, and people can get that on your website. It really tells the story in a simple picture.

Perry: David Swann is my favorite cartoonist locally. We do have a local cartoonist. I know the newspaper doesn’t have one, but you do, Grassroot Institute. Got ahold of David Swann. He used to do the StarBulletin cartoons for a long, long time. I just love the way he draws. The idea: He’s got a little Franken-sh-tein thing going on here. You’ll love it. You can get those at Grassroot Institute. Grassrootinstitute.org is their website, or ksskradio.com.

Dr. Akina, you are one of the smartest people I know. I wish everybody in the square building would take what you just said to heart.

Akina: Mike, thank you. You’re the most trusted voice in radio, and I want to say aloha to the posse this morning. Keep it up.

Perry: You got it. Thanks, Keli’i.

 

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