Bill 37, CD1: Grassroot Institute’s oral testimony

7-7-23 Ted Kefalas oral testimony to the Honolulu City Council on Bill 37

Ted Kefalas: Aloha, Chair, Vice Chair, Council Members. Ted Kefalas with Grassroot Institute. 

So, speaking on Bill 37, this bill essentially makes it so that somebody making about $80,000 a year, their maximum tax bill is $2,400. 

We support increasing the eligibility, this $80,000 increase, to the tax credit to assist the low-income folks. 

So this circuit breaker for low-income households, just, historically, it has not kept up with inflation. It was last increased back in 2014. It increased from $50,000 to $60,000. 

Just to give you a sense of what that number was back then: In 2014, 80% of AMI [area median income] was about $61,000. Today, that same 80% AMI is $83,600. 

So we believe that this doesn’t quite get us there, but it gets us really, really close, and that’s why we believe that the income limit should stay at that $80,000 and not be dropped down to $70,000. 

Just real quick, we do think that Honolulu should try to raise awareness of this. Last year, there were only about 3,200 homeowners that applied for this exemption, so we need to make more people aware of the kind of breaks that are available to them. Mahalo.

Chair Tommy Waters: Thank you very much. Members, any questions? Council Member Kiaʻāina?

Council Member Esther Kiaʻāina: No questions, but, Chair and Ted, I just wanted to “mahalo” you for bird-dogging, not just this bill, but other bills throughout this process. 

And, with regard to educational awareness, it’s clearly important to us. And one of the reasons we’re actually having this meeting today is because notices will be going out and we couldn’t wait to July 12th. 

And so, your point is well taken and we’re hoping that the mayor will expeditiously pass this so that we can start notifying taxpayers.

And whatever advocates and those out there who are listening to could do to help in spreading the word — because $20,000 is a significant increase. 

And so, separate from the fact that a lot of people who were only earning $60,000 or less were unaware of it, I can imagine that the number of people for $80,000 or lower is going to increase, and, as a result, we need to get the word out. So, thank you.


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