Raises on taxes,
By Pat Omandam
Two members of the state Senate this week revived last year's vanquished Economic Revitalization Task Force proposal to increase the general excise tax from 4 percent to 5.35 percent.
Sens. Bob Nakata (D, Kaneohe) and Brian Taniguchi (D, Manoa) said the tax hike, debated heavily last session before it was killed, would generate an estimated $150 million in additional revenue for education.
The idea so far has failed to win over members in both chambers. The Senate Ways and Means Committee was to hear the proposal today in state Capitol Room 211.
Other key action this week:
EDUCATION:The Legislature this week approved $42.5 million in emergency funding of education services for Hawaii's 9,000 special-needs children. It also agreed to $1 million for construction of Kapolei High School so it can open in August 2000.
But House lawmakers killed a Senate plan to require adult education students to pay half the cost of their programs, a move by senators to make adult education self-sufficient.
CAR VALUE TAX:State senators parked a bill that would have imposed a value tax on automobiles, but continued with a plan to raise the daily surcharge on rental cars from $2 to $3.
They also floated an idea to increase the $15-a-month surcharge on tourist vans and the $65-a-month surcharge on tour buses, but that plan has yet to be heard by a committee.
YOUTH LEGISLATURE:The annual Youth Legislature passed 15 bills and resolutions after a week at the Capitol debating 68 pieces of legislation.
The 95 students passed bills that toughened penalties for abuse of a household member, authorized $1 million to hire qualified school counselors and required licenses for people selling cigarettes.
The measures will be sent to the governor, Senate president and the House speaker.
MOLOKAI WASTE:State lawmakers killed funding for a medical waste recycling facility on Molokai after residents, including Office of Hawaiian Affairs trustee Colette Machado, said the community wasn't told of the plan. Supporters of the measure argued opponents are a small minority in the community.
JUDGES PAY:Lawmakers advanced two bills to give a pay raise to judges. The Senate version provides for an 18 percent pay raise over two years, while the House left the amount of the raise blank. Both bills are now before the Legislature's money committees.
PAY RAISES:A Senate bill that allows the state to offer severance pay of up to $25,000 and early retirement pension credits to selected state workers who voluntarily give up their jobs is now before the Finance Committee.
And up before both money panels are bills to provide retroactive pay raises to state workers covered under a new contract, but never funded by the Legislature.
NEXT WEEK:Yo-yos. A resolution being heard by the House Tourism Committee on Tuesday asks the governor to proclaim the week of Aug. 15-21 as Official Yo-yo Week in Hawaii.
It is one of several dozens of resolutions being heard next week.