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‘P3′ for rail a budgetary ruse

Honolulu’s rail project is hoping to save costs by partnering with private companies in a process known as a public-private partnership, or “P3.” But experts say that nationally many rail P3s have enabled the government project managers to duck budgetary limits in the short run and spread their higher costs

Read More →

Hawaii public teachers’ salaries misrepresented

This column was originally featured in the Honolulu Star-Advertiser on Wednesday, Oct. 17. This version includes the charts and footnotes. A widely cited study issued last month by WalletHub erroneously stated that Hawaii public school teachers make a starting salary of only $24,409 when adjusted for cost of living, supposedly

Read More →

Maui County should welcome vacation rentals

The following article was originally featured Sept. 25, 2018, in The Maui News. Maui County policymakers have typically decried short-term rentals that are unpermitted. But rather than erect significant barriers to their operation — including a limit on their numbers — the county should make it easier for them to become legal,

Read More →

Resolve state pension woes to ease Maui budget

The following article was originally featured Aug. 15, 2018, in The Maui News. The Employees’ Retirement System of the State of Hawaii has unfunded liabilities of almost $13 billion — a dangerous amount that threatens the retirement benefits of state and county employees and the pocketbooks of Hawaii taxpayers. But there

Read More →

Rosy assumptions could be thorny for Hawaii ERS

Hawaii’s public pension unfunded liability, conservatively estimated at almost $13 billion, is projected to be paid off by the year 2043, but that end date could drag out far longer if the investments of the state’s Employees’ Retirement System (ERS) do not perform as well as expected. A way to

Read More →

Jones Act virtually useless to military

U.S. consumers have long been paying a premium because of how the century-old Jones Act protects U.S. shipping from foreign competition. And so it goes for the U.S. military — at least for its domestic operations. The military isn’t required to use Jones Act-compliant ships on its overseas routes, so

Read More →

Government fanned flames of volcano disaster

As lava engulfs the homes of many unfortunate Hawaii Island residents, it’s important to remember that the state originally encouraged the building of homes in this dangerous area by offering lava insurance where no private company would. In the 1990s, the town of Kalapana was destroyed by lava, and soon

Read More →

Hawaii has poor record with ‘low’ tax proposals

Hawaii fares poorly when it comes “temporary” taxes or new taxes that were promised to always stay low and targeted. Exhibit A: the state’s “temporary” 5 percent transient accommodations tax, which now is permanent and so far up to 10.25 percent. A new proposal — going before Hawaii voters in

Read More →

Maui should relax its housing and zoning laws

Unlike the state, the four counties in Hawaii have the unique ability to collect revenues from property taxes, and this should make the goal of providing housing especially attractive for county lawmakers. In fiscal year 2019, property tax revenues make up 54 percent of Maui County’s $591 million operating budget,

Read More →

‘P3′ for rail a budgetary ruse

Honolulu’s rail project is hoping to save costs by partnering with private companies in a process known as a public-private partnership, or “P3.” But experts say that nationally many rail P3s have enabled the government project managers to duck budgetary limits in the short run and spread their higher costs

Read More →

Hawaii public teachers’ salaries misrepresented

This column was originally featured in the Honolulu Star-Advertiser on Wednesday, Oct. 17. This version includes the charts and footnotes. A widely cited study issued last month by WalletHub erroneously stated that Hawaii public school teachers make a starting salary of only $24,409 when adjusted for cost of living, supposedly

Read More →

Maui County should welcome vacation rentals

The following article was originally featured Sept. 25, 2018, in The Maui News. Maui County policymakers have typically decried short-term rentals that are unpermitted. But rather than erect significant barriers to their operation — including a limit on their numbers — the county should make it easier for them to become legal,

Read More →

Resolve state pension woes to ease Maui budget

The following article was originally featured Aug. 15, 2018, in The Maui News. The Employees’ Retirement System of the State of Hawaii has unfunded liabilities of almost $13 billion — a dangerous amount that threatens the retirement benefits of state and county employees and the pocketbooks of Hawaii taxpayers. But there

Read More →

Rosy assumptions could be thorny for Hawaii ERS

Hawaii’s public pension unfunded liability, conservatively estimated at almost $13 billion, is projected to be paid off by the year 2043, but that end date could drag out far longer if the investments of the state’s Employees’ Retirement System (ERS) do not perform as well as expected. A way to

Read More →

Jones Act virtually useless to military

U.S. consumers have long been paying a premium because of how the century-old Jones Act protects U.S. shipping from foreign competition. And so it goes for the U.S. military — at least for its domestic operations. The military isn’t required to use Jones Act-compliant ships on its overseas routes, so

Read More →

Government fanned flames of volcano disaster

As lava engulfs the homes of many unfortunate Hawaii Island residents, it’s important to remember that the state originally encouraged the building of homes in this dangerous area by offering lava insurance where no private company would. In the 1990s, the town of Kalapana was destroyed by lava, and soon

Read More →

Hawaii has poor record with ‘low’ tax proposals

Hawaii fares poorly when it comes “temporary” taxes or new taxes that were promised to always stay low and targeted. Exhibit A: the state’s “temporary” 5 percent transient accommodations tax, which now is permanent and so far up to 10.25 percent. A new proposal — going before Hawaii voters in

Read More →

Maui should relax its housing and zoning laws

Unlike the state, the four counties in Hawaii have the unique ability to collect revenues from property taxes, and this should make the goal of providing housing especially attractive for county lawmakers. In fiscal year 2019, property tax revenues make up 54 percent of Maui County’s $591 million operating budget,

Read More →