Letters to the Editor


POSTED: Tuesday, April 21, 2009

Pension-tax plan is already dead

Your editorial yesterday (”;Pension Tax Plan Worrisome”;) regarding a pension tax missed an important update.

To end further consternation and anxiety, please let your readers know that the House Finance Committee agreed with Tax Director Kurt Kawafuchi and many other testifiers when the bill, SB971, SD2, HD1 was heard, and removed the provision taxing pension income over $50,000.

This occurred on Wednesday, March 25. As such, please know that the issue is dead for this session.

Rep. Marcus R. Oshiro

Chairman, House Finance Committee

Smokers easy target for taxes

OK, so I’m a smoker and have been for some time. We know very well it’s an addiction, and it's very difficult to quit overnight. So why on earth are we being penalized with absurd taxes? This is totally unfair.

Why not toilet paper, fertilizer, alcohol, wallpaper, car parts, bug spray?

Give us a break, for God’s sake. Where would you get the extra money if everybody could quit overnight?

John L. Werrill


GOP demonizes union workers

It's not surprising that Hawaii Republican Party Chair Willes Lee's April 3 letter praising Gov. Lingle was rife with GOP rhetoric, exaggerations and half-truths.

According to Mr. Lee, the governor has shown “;responsible leadership,”; but in reality, her actions show otherwise. A true leader motivates people and thinks of creative ways to address critical situations. Being creative isn't chanting the same old Republican mantra: “;No tax increases, cut government.”;

Despite what Mr. Lee thinks, the Lingle-Aiona administration did not submit a balanced budget. To date, it has not provided specific details about its budget, nor has it put forth a concrete plan that outlines how it will move Hawaii out of this economic slump.

Instead, the Lingle-Aiona administration supports cuts to government employee wages and benefits, thinking that we're “;easy targets”; and this would be the path of least resistance for it. However, it only takes common sense to realize that cutting the pay of the largest stable employment group in town will negatively impact the economy.

Public employees are the middle class — we are not the elite. With our modest earnings, we are the very ones who are continuing to support Hawaii's businesses, and are helping our economy. We are spending our hard-earned dollars at our local businesses, and we are continuing to support our community charitable organizations.

The Lingle-Aiona administration is nearing its eighth and final year — and we have yet to see its leadership. Now is its opportunity to make a positive difference for Hawaii — for it to be bold and creative — and yet all it can come up with are the same tired Republican ideas.

Richard H.K. Onishi

President, Hawaii Government Employees Association


Mayor prudent about new fees

Tax Foundation of Hawaii Director Lowell Kalapa is correct that “;we need to have garbage pickup. That shouldn't be an option”; (”;Tax hike on 'inevitable' track,”; Star-Bulletin, April 13). There are, however, options available for financing this necessary service.

The city determined 10 years ago that its solid waste management program should be self-sustaining, rather than subsidized by property taxes. Disposal fees charged at solid waste transfer stations, the landfill, and the H-Power facility have never been sufficient to pay for the program, and it will be subsidized with $96 million in property taxes next year.

If the program were self-sufficient, that tax revenue could pay for other priorities, such as cleaning parks and enhancing public safety. That's why Mayor Hannemann has questioned whether a fee should be charged for solid waste collection, as in most other U.S. cities.

Regarding property taxes, the mayor's proposal to adjust the residential rate by 30 cents — to $3.59 per $1,000 of assessed value — would still leave the rate lower than it was when he took office in 2005. Now that property values are leveling off, and in some cases declining, it is fiscally prudent to consider that option.

Rix Maurer III

Director, Honolulu Department of Budget and Fiscal Services

New grocery bag beats old plastic

In a perfect world, plastic would be eliminated altogether. But that's not the reality we live in (”;Skip the plastic, use your own bag,”; Star-Bulletin, April 14).

In addition to promoting the use of reusable bags, which Down to Earth is a leader in, for those customers that come without reusable bags and need a bag for their purchases, the most practical and environmentally friendly step we can take is to embrace biodegradable bags. Tests by independent laboratories proved that the new biodegradable bags we will begin using on Earth Day break down completely into water, carbon dioxide, and harmless humus on land and in the ocean, and leave no toxins behind.

This biodegradation process can take place with or without the presence of light or oxygen. These factors allow for biodegradation when buried in the ground or disposed in compost bins or landfills, which normally prevent degradation because they become airtight.

The technology is based on a process that causes plastic films to biodegrade when they are exposed to microorganisms in the environment. The process continues until the plastic becomes part of the organic components of the soil, just like biodegraded sticks or other pieces of wood become part of the soil.

In addition, these bags are made out of polyethylene, which comes from ethane extracted from natural gas. So, there's no oil to begin with and no oil going into the environment from plastic bags.”;

It's true that these bags take nine months to five years to biodegrade. However, compared with the centuries required for conventional plastic to break down, that's no time at all. I'm thrilled we are bringing them to our stores.

Mark Fergusson

Chief executive, Healthy's, Inc., dba Down to Earth




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