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Halfway Point: Pension Tax, Gambling, Government Ferry System

March 24, 2011
Maui Weekly

Our state is facing a deficit of over $700 million dollars. The Hawai‘i State Constitution mandates a balanced budget. In the midst of this crisis, Gov. Neil Abercrombie has proposed almost $500 million in additional spending. This translates to about $800 of additional taxes for each taxpayer during fiscal year 2012.

Unfortunately, the new governor is making some wrong choices in order to get the state out of the current deficit crisis. For example, the governor’s legislative package includes HB1092, a bill that proposes to tax the pensions of Hawai‘i citizens. This will be a particular hardship for our retired residents who are on fixed income. The cost of living in Hawai‘i is already high; balancing the budget on our retirees and senior citizens is the wrong approach.

Gambling continues to raise its ugly head each year in the Legislature. Unfortunately, our state is in a difficult financial condition and some lawmakers think gambling is a viable alternative to producing revenue. I will consistently vote against gambling, as I believe it will hurt the poor and add additional burden to our social services. Consider this: When people come to Hawai‘i and lose their money in casinos, it will only add to the homeless population in our islands. Hawai‘i is a world-renowned destination; millions of visitors come every year without gambling. We don’t need gambling to make Hawai‘i more appealing to travelers. Fortunately, HB781HD, which would have established a 10-year license for one stand-alone casino in Waikiki, was defeated last week.

Finally, I recently spoke on the floor of the House against HB1239, which would establish a Hawai‘i state ferry system authority. Hawai‘i is in a financial crisis; we cannot afford to expand the size of government to subsidize a multimillion-dollar ferry system. Hawai‘i had a functioning private ferry system that was shut down by the courts. What has changed? We need to be establishing incentives so that the private sector will want to expand business and hire more people in our state. The State of Hawai‘i should not be in the business of competing with private enterprise.

If you need to contact me with any issues or concerns regarding South Maui, please call my office at (808) 586-8525 or email repfontaine@capitol.hawaii.gov.

 
 

 

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