On Friday, Oct. 19, the Hawai‘i Supreme Court invalidated the ballot question to authorize a constitutional amendment that would have allowed the state legislature to implement a surcharge on investment property to support public education. All four counties in the state of Hawai‘i petitioned the court to have the question removed, citing that the question was too vague to satisfy the requirements of a ballot question. The ballot question drew both passionate support and criticism.
The Hawai‘i State Teachers Association, the union for public school teachers, supported the amendment on the basis of funding needs for schools. Opposition came from counties concerned about the surcharge infringing on their taxing power, and the Affordable Hawaii Coalition, which claimed that further taxes would hurt businesses and Hawai‘i’s people.
There were compelling arguments on both sides, but the question remains: What next? It’s generally accepted that Hawai‘i’s public schools are underfunded, teachers are underpaid, classroom conditions are less than ideal, and there is a shortage of qualified teachers for students.
There have been a few solutions floated in recent years: increasing the conveyance tax, legalizing and taxing adult use of cannabis, raising the general excise tax, auditing the Department of Education, and even breaking apart the DOE so schools are under county jurisdiction.
Whatever the case, this much is clear: We must act now, or the education and future of our keiki and state will only be placed further at risk.
Photo courtesy Hawaii State Teachers Association
Discussion 10/26/2018: Would you vote for a constitutional amendment to allow the state legislature the power to tax properties in order to support public education?
Share your opinion and comment below or to editor@mauitime to have your voice heard and for a chance to appear in print!
Take The Poll: https://www.surveymonkey.com/r/CON-AM