April 27, 2005
Two influential business
groups are on opposite sides of a proposed excise
tax increase to pay for public transportation.
Business groups at odds on tax
The Chamber of Commerce of Hawaii
supports the increase while the Hawaii Association
of Realtors does not.
House Bill 1309 gives counties
the authority to levy a surcharge on the state general
excise tax, raising it from 4 percent to 5
percent. The tax could be used on Oahu to help pay for
a mass transit program like light rail.
In a letter to members,
chamber president and CEO Jim Tollefson and chair Christine
Camp Friedman said now is the time to
start solving the problem of traffic congestion.
support in the form of taxes is necessary for transportation
systems, just as support is necessary for parks, harbors,
airports, and other community services," Tollefson
But the chamber said counties should be required
to follow a formal process that details the transportation
project plan before
its implementation and that there are assurances the
tax money will be used only for transportation projects.
Realtors' association, meanwhile, has advertisements
over four weeks that use a caricature of a man dressed
in nothing but
a barrel and slippers, saying: "The Legislature
will raise the price on everything you buy, even the
clothes on your back."
The Realtors say the new law
would cost every family nearly $900 in additional taxes
per year, dampening the local economy.
The Chamber of Commerce of Hawaii has about
1,100 members. The Hawaii Association of Realtors has
about 8,000 members.
legislative conference committee is discussing the
Pacific Business News (Honolulu) - April 27, 2005
© 2005 American City Business Journals Inc.