Communication 2023-118: Kauai can afford property tax reduction for homesteads

The following testimony was submitted by the Grassroot Institute of Hawaii for consideration by the Kauai County Council on May 15, 2023.

May 15, 2023
8:30 a.m.
Kauai County Council Chambers

To: Kaua‘i County Council
      Councilmember Mel Rapozo, Chair
      Councilmember KipuKai Kuali`i, Vice Chair

From: Grassroot Institute of Hawaii
           Jonathan Helton, Policy Researcher

RE: Communication 2023-118, Supplemental Budget Communication for Fiscal Year 2023-2024 and Proposed Amendments to the Budget Bills

Comments Only

Dear Chair and Committee Members:

The Grassroot Institute of Hawaii would like to offer its comments on Communication 2023-118, which contains Mayor Derek Kawakami’s proposed amendments to the 2023-2024 budget.

To begin, the Institute would like to thank the mayor and the Council for making further tax reductions a priority in the fiscal 2024 budget.

The ongoing migration of Hawaii residents to the mainland is a testament to the high cost of living in our state, and an article in The Garden Island discussed a Forbes Advisor analysis finding Hawaii to be “worst state for saving money.”[1]

In addition, just last week, Aloha United Way reported that individuals and families in Hawaii considered to be “asset limited, income constrained, employed” suffered from significant increases in the cost of basic necessities between 2019 and 2021.[2]

As Communication 2023-118 notes, the proposed additional 5% tax rate reduction for the homestead tax class would provide about $84 in tax relief per Kaua‘i household, for a total tax savings of around $240 per household when combined with the 10% rate cut proposed in the original budget.[3]

Given that the County is expecting almost 17% more in property tax revenues in fiscal 2024 over fiscal 2023, the county can easily afford this rate change.

As you consider further changes to Kaua‘i County’s real property tax system for the upcoming year, please do not hesitate to reach out to us if you think we might be able to help.

Thank you for the opportunity to testify.


Jonathan Helton
Policy Researcher
Grassroot Institute of Hawaii

[1] Jackson Healy, “Hawai‘i ranked worst state for saving money,” The Garden Island, May 11, 2023.
[2]ALICE in the Crosscurrents: COVID and Financial Hardship in Hawai‘i,” Aloha United Way, April 2023, p. 4.
[3]Fiscal Year 2024 (FY24) Supplemental Budget Submittal,” Office of the Mayor, May 6, 2023, p. 2.

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