June 14, 2005


Gov wants legislators to cut taxes (Richard Borreca, 6/08/05, Honolulu Star-Bulletin)

As Hawaii's economy continues to soar, Gov. Linda Lingle and some legislative leaders are saying this summer is the time to cut taxes.

Lingle said at a news conference yesterday that if legislators are coming back this summer for a special session to override any of her expected vetoes, they should also come back to cut taxes.

"I would certainly hope that if there is a special session this summer -- and glancing over the vetoes that might occur, I think there would be a special session -- we would expect tax relief to be a critical part of the agenda for the Legislature," Lingle said.

According to the state Constitution, the Legislature would have to meet July 12 to override any vetoes. At the same time, lawmakers could call a special five-day session to introduce legislation to cut taxes or address other issues.

Senate President Robert Bunda, who opened the legislature in January with calls for middle-class tax cuts, said he agreed with Lingle.

"If we are talking special session, we should consider tax relief," Bunda said.

"We need to engage our constituents. Despite the good economy, a lot of people are still struggling. They are struggling on one pay check and they want to feel we are listening," Bunda (D, Kaena-Wahiawa-Pupukea) said.

But House Speaker Rep. Calvin Say said he doesn't think the state has enough extra money to absorb tax cuts that could cost the state up to $60 million a year.

"I would say be cautious," Say (D, St. Louis Heights-Wilhelmina Rise) said. "Yeah, we may have the resources here today to pay for a tax cut, but would you rather have a cut in taxes and not have the revenues to face fiscal problems in the future?

"If you are anticipating the growth in the economy, are you also anticipating federal cutbacks and collective bargaining?"

Rep. Lynn Finnegan, the House GOP leader, disagreed, saying the economy can support a tax reduction.

"If we come back in, we should be working on tax relief immediately," Finnegan (Mapunapuna-Foster Village) said.

A tax cutting platform is a useful device for growing the GOP, especially when Democrats fight it.

Posted by Orrin Judd at June 14, 2005 8:52 AM

Kaena-Wahiawa-Pupukea is a nice name for a district.

Hawaii was solid Dem until the GOP took the governorship in '02. If it can make HI less solid blue (and perhaps take one of the Senate seats currently held by 2 over 80 Dems) it would help.

Posted by: AWW at June 14, 2005 9:45 AM

"I would say be cautious," [House Speaker Rep. Calvin Say] (D) said. "Yeah, we may have the resources here today to pay for a tax cut, but would you rather have a cut in taxes and not have the revenues to face fiscal problems in the future?"

I agree completely... In principle.

We've seen this played out on a large scale just recently, as over 40 states went from a late-90s boom in tax revenues to bust at the beginning of the 21st century, necessitating tax increases of all kinds in most states.

However, since very few legislative bodies have consistently managed to wisely steward excessive tax revenues until they're needed, crudely cycling from tax cuts to tax increases, as needed, seems like the best that can be achieved.

Posted by: Michael Herdegen at June 14, 2005 10:08 AM

AWW: The Hawaii GOP is Linda Lingle, and vice versa.

Posted by: b at June 14, 2005 10:29 AM