Wed, Jan 17, 2024 5:12 AM
By Kim Jarrett, The Center Square
The Hawaii Legislature will consider a bill calling for a constitutional amendment to enact a tax on residential investment property valued at over $3 million, with the proceeds going to fund public schools.
"The legislature also finds that chronic underfunding in public education undermines the State's goal of providing a quality education to all of Hawaii's students and to having an educated workforce," the bill said. "Insufficient funding results in delayed repairs to school facilities, overheated classrooms, larger class sizes, a lack of adequate classroom supplies, elimination of arts and career and technical education courses, budget cuts for special education and English language learner programs, increased in-state tuition costs to attend the University of Hawaii, and an increasing number of vacant teacher positions statewide."
The cost of housing is a "significant deterrent to affordability of residing in Hawaii."
"Real estate owned by nonresident investors exacerbates the economics of unaffordability of housing," lawmakers said in the bill. "The State needs its residents to be educated and for local businesses and industry to have a well-educated resident workforce. Enabling funding from real estate speculation to support public education infrastructure within the State is rational."
The average cost of a home in Hawaii is 714,700, according to the real estate company Redfin.
Hawaii legislators begin the 2024 session Wednesday with a slew of new bills. House Bill 1572 would create a tax on out-of-state pensions.
"The legislature believes that the taxation of these out-of-state pensions will establish equity among taxpayers residing in Hawaii and help grow the State's economy," the bill states.
Lawmakers will also address the Maui wildfires. The House and Senate will consider identical bills requiring the insurance commissioner to study wildfire risks. Legislators are also proposing a Hawaii Wildfire Relief fund to help with the cost associated with the wildfires. Another bill would re-establish the state fire marshal's office.
The House will have a new member. Gov. Josh Green appointed Joje May Mizuno to fill a seat vacated when the governor appointed her husband, John Mizuno, to Coordinator of Homelessness.
“Her deep roots within the community and experience in legislative matters will make her a phenomenal Representative for District 29," Green said. "She was selected from a list of three fantastic nominees, all with strong ties in the community, all of Filipino ancestry, and all leaders in their own right. That said, there was an overwhelming amount of support for May."