The following news release was issued by the Grassroot Institute of Hawaii on June 23, 2021.
Grassroot Institute of Hawaii CEO Keli’i Akina says the list reflects a commendable effort to avoid increasing Hawaii’s taxpayer burden
HONOLULU, June 23, 2021 >> The Grassroot Institute of Hawaii today commended Gov. David Ige for declaring his intent to veto bills from the 2021 Legislature that would have increased the state’s already notoriously high cost of living.
The governor’s “intent to veto” list was released June 21 and featured several controversial tax and spending bills. Those include HB58, which would have raised the conveyance tax while suspending multiple general excise tax exemptions, and HB862, a gut-and-replace mishmash that would have given counties the ability to impose a transient accommodations tax as well as defunding the Hawaii Tourism Authority.
Regarding HB58, Institute President and CEO Keli’i Akina said, “While we would prefer to see all of this year’s tax proposals on the veto list, it’s a relief to find one of the worst tax bills of the 2021 session slated for a veto.”
“HB58 was a ‘Frankenbill’ stitched together from the remains of another big tax bill,” he explained, “and it was one in a series of proposals that — while purportedly aimed at the rich — would have ended up costing all Hawaii residents in the long run.
“As we repeatedly told the Legislature this year, this is the worst possible time to burden our residents and businesses with more taxes. When you’re trying to rebuild a struggling economy, you need the government to step back and reduce the cost of living, not add to it.”
Akina said the veto of HB862 is more complicated.
“On the one hand,” he said, “the veto prevents the creation of a county-level transient accommodations tax, which is an unnecessary burden on the recovering tourism industry. On the other hand, the veto also puts an end to the effort to defund the Hawaii Tourism Authority. I hope that the much-needed debate on taxpayer-funded tourism marketing continues in a future session.”
Akina said he was cautiously optimistic about the intended vetoes of several budget and spending measures, which the governor explained were due to federal limitations on the use COVID-19 funds and reflect the state’s improved economic forecast.
“Economic growth — not increased debt or higher taxes — is the best route to solving our state’s budget problems,” Akina said. “It appears that Gov. Ige understands this, and is tailoring his spending decisions to prevent the state from falling into a larger fiscal hole.”
On the whole, Akina said, “the governor’s intent-to-veto list demonstrates a fiscally responsible approach to our state finances.”
Recalling Ige’s statement earlier this year that a tax hike is the last thing Hawaii’s businesses and citizens need,” Akina said Gov. Ige “deserves praise for stopping the worst tax hikes of the legislative session before they add to Hawaii’s already-high tax burden.”