by Mark Coleman
HB2278 promises tax refunds to taxpayers but that will hardly make up for the economic damage the bill would surely cause.
Hawaii’s first “barrel” tax went into effect in 1993 and amounted to 5 cents a barrel, with all of the proceeds to go into a special fund aimed at cleaning up after oil spills and a mechanism turning the tax “off” once the fund reached $20 million.
Twenty-nine years later, the Legislature is considering a bill generically titled “HB2278 — Relating to energy,” also known as the “carbon tax,” that would increase the tax on a barrel of gasoline to $5.27 by 2023, and a whopping $33.16 by 2035.
It also would direct money to five more special funds and change the special-fund allocations from percentages to specific amounts, with the rest to go to the general fund.
As a selling point to the public, it also would create an income tax credit that would be stepped up from $65 for single taxpayers and $30 for those filing jointly in 2023 to $480 plus an additional child credit of $240 for joint taxpayers by 2035 and beyond.
Meanwhile, fuel prices would be going through the roof, causing a wave effect throughout Hawaii’s economy, further increasing our cost of living and harming Hawaii residents who can least afford it.
Said Joe Kent, institute executive vice president:
“The proposal outlined in this bill appears to be based on the faulty idea that it is possible to reimburse Hawaii residents for the economic impact of a massive tax hike — as though taxes were simply a question of money-in, money-out, with the state government operating as a type of bank. However, such an approach deeply underestimates the impact of tax hikes, most especially increases in energy taxes, on the economy as a whole…
“This bill would raise the cost of living in Hawaii [and] is, in fact, a continuation of the policy of social-planning-via-taxation that has helped make Hawaii one of the most expensive states in the nation.”
MARK COLEMAN is managing editor and communications director for the Grassroot Institute of Hawaii, an independent nonprofit research organization that seeks to lower the cost of living, expand opportunities and foster prosperity for all in Hawaii.
Any opinions, advice, or statements contained in our Open Forum section are those of the author and/or the organization represented, and do not necessarily reflect the opinions of the Hawaii Filipino Chronicle board’s editorial staff.
by Mark Coleman