Hawaii State Legislature Opens

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Yesterday marked the opening of the Hawaii State Legislature for 2006. The traditionally colorful and pompous opening day sessions in both the house and senate were filled with entertainment and pontificating political speeches. I attended the session in the State Senate.

There Senate President Robert Bunda sounded like a Republican as he indicated that the voter-citizens should get tax breaks and at least a portion of the nearly $600 million tax surplus back. He said a few things about putting aside petty politics between parties and within them, making a reference to the 10-10 leadership tie among the majority senators.

Senate Minority Leader Fred Hemmings went a step further on Bunda’s theme of tax reform. He echoed the minority caucus’s call for elimination of the General Excise Tax on food and medicine, something which Governor Lingle had long promised but has so far come up short in the last 3 years. Development of alternate energy, less dependence on imported oil and private-public partnerships was also on the Senate Republican agenda.

Over at the State House, the majority Democrats want to have the tax surplus used for school maintenance and upgrades.

Certainly a battle is brewing in this year’s session on what to exactly do with the state tax surplus. I say give a portion of it back to the taxpayers. The money after all is ours. A tax refund, a reduction in the standard deduction or elimination of the GET on food and medicine will go a long way in helping Hawaii residents and businesses overcome the burdens of high cost associated with the increase of taxes and fees implemented by the state and counties in recent years.

In this election year it will be interesting to see what legislators on both sides come up with this session.

Links to more information:

  • Hawaii State Legislature
  • Politicians Set Stage for Surplus Debate
  • Legislature Starts With Talk on Budget Surplus Options
  • Pressure’s On To Get More
  • Hawaii State Legislature Opens to the Smell of Sweet Flowers….

    Photo caption: It was a standing room only crowd at both chambers of the State Capitol as the Legislature started its first day of session work on January 18. This is a shot taken from the back gallery of the State Senate Chamber.

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