(BIVN) – “Shall the legislature be authorized to establish, as provided by law, a surcharge on investment real property to be used to support public education?”
That’s the question voters will have the chance to answer in November, after the Hawaii State Legislature passed Senate Bill 2922 the Surcharge on Investment Properties to Fund Public Education Amendment. The measure had the support of the Hawaii State Teachers Association.
“Passing this bill will let the people of Hawaii vote, for the first time in our state’s history, to finally fund our public schools properly. They have been underfunded far too long,” the HSTA wrote on its website in May after the bill passed. “This bill addresses two problems at once. First, Hawaii’s schools are chronically underfunded, with our state ranking last in the nation in the percentage of state and local revenue spent on our public schools. Persistent underfunding has led to a chronic teacher shortage, higher class sizes, cutbacks to arts, vocational and Native Hawaiian courses, unequal access to preschool programming and more. Second, we are the only state that doesn’t use property taxes to help pay for public education, leaving us with the lowest property tax rates in the country. Real estate speculators have taken advantage of our low property tax rates to use Hawaii as their own private Monopoly board, driving up our cost of living by purchasing investment homes at prices residents cannot afford to pay. Last year, for example, 60 percent of all condos on Maui were owned by nonresidents. We must increase funding for our schools and stop wealthy investors from distorting our housing market. Our ConAm will do just that.”
A “yes” vote supports the amendment to empower the state lawmakers to enact a surcharge on investment properties, with revenue from the surcharge earmarked for public education.
The question poses a concern for county government. Lisa Miura, the Real Property Tax Administrator, gave a detailed presentation to the Hawaii County Council Finance Committee on September 4 in Hilo, explaining why they see the amendment as problematic. (video above)
There will be more opportunities to learn about the ballot question in the near future. Two public forums have been set to help educate voters:
- Thursday, September 27
4:30 p.m. to 6 p.m.
ARC in Hilo
- Wednesday, October 3
6 p.m. to 8 p.m.
West Hawaii Civil Center
This media release was issued in advance of the forum in Hilo:
An important decision will be made by voters this November that, if passed, will amend Hawai‘i State’s Constitution. The ballot question reads, “Shall the legislature be authorized to establish, as provided by law, a surcharge on investment real property to be used to support public education?”
Hawai‘i voters should be informed and understand what they are voting on. Learn about the pros and cons of the proposed constitutional amendment at this moderated panel forum on Thursday, Sept. 27, 2018 from 4:30-6:00pm at The Arc of Hilo Event Center at 1099 Waianuenue Ave. in Hilo. Doors will open at 4:00 p.m. This public event is open to the community free of charge.
Panelists will include Lisa Miura, Administrator, County of Hawai‘i Real Property Tax Division; Senator Gil Riviere; Corey Rosenlee, President, Hawaii State Teachers Association; and Deborah Zysman, Executive Director, Hawaii Children’s Action Network. The forum will be moderated by Sherry Bracken, Public Affairs Director, Mahalo Broadcasting and host of the Sunday interview show Island Issues for LAVA 105.3 fm and on KKOA 107.7 fm. She also reports on Hawai‘i Island news for Hawaii Public Radio and works with Big Island Video News.
The event is sponsored by the Hawai‘i Island Chamber of Commerce, Japanese Chamber of Commerce & Industry of Hawaii, Hawai‘i Island REALTORS®, Hawai‘i Island Contractors’ Association, Kanoelehua Industrial Area Association, Big Island Press Club, Hawaii Island Economic Development Board, and Hawaii Leeward Planning Conference.
For more information, please call the Hawai‘i Island Chamber of Commerce office at (808) 935-7178.