Keep Their Feet to the FIRE: The Citizen’s Checklist for Legislative Behavior
The Grassroot Institute of Hawaii is proud to announce the release of the second research paper in our "In Pursuit" series of policy analysis. The topic of this month's review was the principle that should guide public policy and legislative action. Given that the Hawaii State Legislature will be back in session in January, this is a timely, needed focus on the foundations of public policy. (more)
Hawaii and Asia-Pacific Economic Cooperation
The Grassroot Institute of Hawaii is proud to announce the release of the first research paper in our "In Pursuit" series of policy analysis. The topic of this month's review was the intersection of Hawaii and APEC. Given that the APEC conference will momentarily be gracing our shores, this is a timely, needed focus on local economic policy. (more)
An Uncensored Look At The Fiscal Challenges Facing Hawaii
The incoming Twenty-Sixth Legislature of Hawaii and newly elected Governor Neil Abercrombie have inherited for 2011 significant challenges in the form of persistent unemployment/underemployment, unstable global markets, an ongoing international currency war, dramatically rising costs of commodities and chief of all, a precariously balanced budget. In this study of what we term “the real state of the State” we review Hawaii’s government expenditures, financial stewardship and provide nonpartisan policy recommendations for how our state can stabilize itself amidst growing risk. (more)
Hawaii’s taxpayers might be shocked to discover that while numerous voices in and out of the local political establishment are calling for an increase in the General Excise Tax to cover any future budget shortfalls in education or other state services, upwards of $1.4 billion dollars in unspent excess funds may be sitting in special funds, several of which were tagged by the auditor almost a decade ago for repeal. According to the Department of Budget and Finance’s “Reports on Non-General Fund Information: Fiscal Years 2006-2012,” some 186 special funds spread across twenty different departments hold an estimated $1,412,357,203 in unspent revenues over and above their operational requirements. In plain language, if the estimates provided by the Department are correct, the state has more than just pocket change stuck in its seats. (more)
Part 2 in a series
Big Island small business owner Jim O'Keefe found out the hard way that his American dream, owning his own business, was too difficult to maintain in Hawaii. He closed down his 13-year-old extensive bakery wholesale and retail operation, O’Keefe & Sons Bread Bakers, in 2008 because it was too costly to maintain. (more)
No Accountability and Improper Incentives
Imagine this scenario: You live next-door to a man with a nice job promising nice retirement benefits. Yet when he decides to retire, you are the one who will pay the bill. This is the situation for the retirement benefits of almost 14 percent of workers in Hawaii. While it seems logical for taxpayers to cover the benefits of public employees, this arrangement has given the state government a moral hazard to invest retirement funds in unwise and risky investments. There is little incentive for the managers of the Hawaii Employees Retirement System to insure solvency. Decisions are made by individuals with no interest in the financial success of the fund and the taxpayers who cover the losses have no say in the way funds are invested. (more)
Did Your Legislator Pass the Freedom Test?
This year, Hawaii state legislators were put to the financial test. With a record state shortfall, the legislature came up with all types of creative solutions.
One was to raise taxes, which the House and Senate approved in more than a dozen different votes. Another “solution” was to raid almost every special fund and use the money to fill the depleted general fund. Unfortunately, spending cuts were not high on the list.
After the link, each legislator has been scored based on his or her performance in the 2010 legislative session. Scores indicate the percentage of votes in which legislators voted in favor of limited government and greater individual liberty. While a few legislators seized the shortfall as an opportunity to make tough spending decisions, the vast majority voted to continue for the status quo—excessive spending and even higher taxes for the people of Hawaii. (more)
Did Your Legislator Pass the Freedom Test?
Which Hawaii state legislators toed the party line this session? Who opted for some of the largest tax increases in state history? Who voted in favor of big government and against small businesses? These answers and more can be found in the second annual Hawaii Legislative Scorecard, just released by the Grassroot Institute of Hawaii. The new report ranks state legislators based on their commitment to upholding freedom and liberty during the 2009 legislative session. (more)
The Book Hawaii's Government Doesn't Want You to Read
The desperate dance to balance the state budget was trickier than ever this legislative session. Far from providing innovative solutions, the Democratic led legislature had one answer to solve the $1.2 billion budget deficit: tax, tax, and tax some more, to the tune of $600 million. (more)
Correcting historical revisionism and misconceptions promoted by the Akaka Bill.
How Fast Does The State Government Spend Your Money?