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VIEWPOINT: Ad regarding school bus service was self-serving and misleading

The beginning of every school year is a time of great excitement for students, parents and staff, that also brings new challenges to overcome. Each year, our bus contractors enable the safe delivery of approximately 40,000 students statewide every day. The Hawaii State Department of Education (HIDOE) recognizes that for 383 of its students on Maui these expectations were not …

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The Grand Skim of Things, Part 3

We continue our discussion about the 5% charge assessed against special funds in Hawaii government, also known as the “Central Services Skim.”  Last week, we examined the exemptions from the skim and the danger that the funds who are paying the assessments can claim that they are being gouged.  This week, we look at the one State department that has …

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The Grand Skim of Things, Part 2

Last week, we began a discussion about the 5% charge that is assessed against the “special funds” in Hawaii government, which we called the “Central Services Skim.”  For the last few fiscal years, the Central Services Skim has redirected about $45 million a year from the special funds to the state general fund, ostensibly to pay for shared services such …

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The Grand Skim of Things, Part 1

In this space, we have often spoken of funding government with “special funds.”  Special funds are pots of money dedicated to a specified purpose.  Money in the fund can be spent for the specified purpose without going through the general appropriation process at the Legislature.  Agencies love them because they can spend money without interference by meddlesome lawmakers.  Supporters of …

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Universal Basic Income: “If you don’t work, you don’t eat?”

Growing up in these islands, I always heard the part-Hawaiian proverb that describes a very simple work ethic: “No hanahana, no kaukau.”  Meaning: if you don’t work, you don’t eat. Recently, some very notable people including Mark Zuckerberg of Facebook have been championing the idea of “universal basic income,” which basically is a payment from the government to individuals simply …

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Hawaii Earned Income Tax Credit: Devil in the Details

On July 10, 2017, Governor Ige proudly signed House Bill 209, a bill that establishes a Hawaii earned income tax credit (HI-EITC for short).  The EITC has been described as “a federal tax credit that helps families work their way into the middle class.  Since its inception in 1975, the federal EITC has been hailed as the most effective anti-poverty …

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Community Voices: Carving Up the Price of Car Rentals

One of the legislative bills that is now being considered by Gov. David Ige is a curious bill, HB 735, involving the car rental industry.  The bill doesn’t seek to impose new taxes or fees upon rental cars.  Instead, it affects how car rental businesses can show these fees on rental car invoices as separate line items. Hawaii Revised Statutes …

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Community Voices: Closing an Estate Tax Loophole?

One of the bills our legislature sent up to Gov. Ige to be signed, which is almost certain to become law because the Department of Taxation sponsored it, is one to close an estate tax “loophole.”  The issue isn’t as simple as it might seem, however. First, some background.  An estate tax is imposed when a person dies.  The Federal …

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Community Voices: Human Casualties at the Legislature, Part 2

I have written previously about some of the human casualties that took place in this past legislative session.  I would be remiss if I failed to mention Tom Gorak, who had been chief counsel of the Hawaii Public Utilities Commission (PUC) before Governor Ige appointed him to be one of the three PUC commissioners. The circumstances of Gorak’s appointment were …

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Community Voices: Human Casualties at the Legislature

Our legislature this year has had several casualties. We expect quite a few bills to be tossed aside during the legislative process. However, in recent years we have had more than the average number of human casualties, the most recent being Speaker of the House Joe Souki and Senate Ways and Means Chair Jill Tokuda. The casualties in this legislature …

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