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Who’s the Boss, Anyway? (Part 2)

In November of last year, I wrote about a Colorado case that was before the U.S. Supreme Court. Colorado voters had limited the power of its legislature to enact taxing and spending bills, and some of its legislators sued, saying that the power of the legislature was being throttled unconstitutionally.

Read More →

Post-Employment Benefits Are King

We’ve earlier written about State pensions and other post-employment benefits. We’ve mentioned that the liabilities are potentially huge, but we haven’t yet spoken much about constitutional protection. The Hawaii Constitution says, “Membership in any employees’ retirement system of the State or any political subdivision thereof shall be a contractual relationship,

Read More →

Clean Energy Equals $418M Tax Hike?

Hawaii’s clean energy goals are the most aggressive in the nation, according to the home page of the Hawaii Clean Energy Initiative (HCEI). Let’s find out just how aggressive some of these goals are. Who is HCEI? It might sound like an independent nonprofit but it’s not; it’s actually a

Read More →

And the Lowsman Trophy Goes to … Hawaii!!

You may have heard about Marcus Mariota, the “favorite son” from Hawaii who went on to win the Heisman Trophy and was then picked in the first round of the NFL draft. What you might not know is that there’s also a Lowsman Trophy, for the pro football player who

Read More →

Friends Don’t Let Friends Pay Higher Taxes?

“Friends Don’t Let Friends Pay Higher Taxes.” Sounds like a great marketing slogan, right? So just who do you think is doing the marketing? A conservative think tank? The Tax Foundation of Hawaii? A taxpayer advocacy group? Actually, it comes from the State of Indiana. Recently, the General Assembly of

Read More →

Where’s the Tax Stamp on that Eggplant?

Being a lawmaker is never easy. Not only do you have to deal with throngs of agitated constituents on a daily basis, but often you are asked to give your stamp of approval to things you might not know about completely. This past session gives us one interesting example. Health

Read More →

Whither the Resort Fee?

This week we will be talking about “resort fees.” In recent years, a number of hotels, including many in Hawaii, have been adding them to hotel bills. The hotels say that it’s for access to the gym, pool, or Wi-Fi network, for example. But the fee is charged whether or

Read More →

Unfunded Liabilities – Smoke and Mirrors?

Recently, I was on a television program with two very prominent local politicians, and the subject of unfunded liabilities came up. We know that actuaries have looked at the Employer-Union Health Benefits Trust Fund, or EUTF, and have found that the plan is “unfunded” by a staggering amount, as in

Read More →

Whose Tax is It, Anyway? (Part 2)

Last week we spent some time on business-related income taxes paid and the question of who may deduct them. Some 77% of small businesses are organized as “pass-through entities,” such as partnerships, LLCs, or S corporations, where the business entity doesn’t pay income taxes but its owners do. If the

Read More →

Who’s the Boss, Anyway? (Part 2)

In November of last year, I wrote about a Colorado case that was before the U.S. Supreme Court. Colorado voters had limited the power of its legislature to enact taxing and spending bills, and some of its legislators sued, saying that the power of the legislature was being throttled unconstitutionally.

Read More →

Post-Employment Benefits Are King

We’ve earlier written about State pensions and other post-employment benefits. We’ve mentioned that the liabilities are potentially huge, but we haven’t yet spoken much about constitutional protection. The Hawaii Constitution says, “Membership in any employees’ retirement system of the State or any political subdivision thereof shall be a contractual relationship,

Read More →

Clean Energy Equals $418M Tax Hike?

Hawaii’s clean energy goals are the most aggressive in the nation, according to the home page of the Hawaii Clean Energy Initiative (HCEI). Let’s find out just how aggressive some of these goals are. Who is HCEI? It might sound like an independent nonprofit but it’s not; it’s actually a

Read More →

And the Lowsman Trophy Goes to … Hawaii!!

You may have heard about Marcus Mariota, the “favorite son” from Hawaii who went on to win the Heisman Trophy and was then picked in the first round of the NFL draft. What you might not know is that there’s also a Lowsman Trophy, for the pro football player who

Read More →

Friends Don’t Let Friends Pay Higher Taxes?

“Friends Don’t Let Friends Pay Higher Taxes.” Sounds like a great marketing slogan, right? So just who do you think is doing the marketing? A conservative think tank? The Tax Foundation of Hawaii? A taxpayer advocacy group? Actually, it comes from the State of Indiana. Recently, the General Assembly of

Read More →

Where’s the Tax Stamp on that Eggplant?

Being a lawmaker is never easy. Not only do you have to deal with throngs of agitated constituents on a daily basis, but often you are asked to give your stamp of approval to things you might not know about completely. This past session gives us one interesting example. Health

Read More →

Whither the Resort Fee?

This week we will be talking about “resort fees.” In recent years, a number of hotels, including many in Hawaii, have been adding them to hotel bills. The hotels say that it’s for access to the gym, pool, or Wi-Fi network, for example. But the fee is charged whether or

Read More →

Unfunded Liabilities – Smoke and Mirrors?

Recently, I was on a television program with two very prominent local politicians, and the subject of unfunded liabilities came up. We know that actuaries have looked at the Employer-Union Health Benefits Trust Fund, or EUTF, and have found that the plan is “unfunded” by a staggering amount, as in

Read More →

Whose Tax is It, Anyway? (Part 2)

Last week we spent some time on business-related income taxes paid and the question of who may deduct them. Some 77% of small businesses are organized as “pass-through entities,” such as partnerships, LLCs, or S corporations, where the business entity doesn’t pay income taxes but its owners do. If the

Read More →