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LETTER: Support Bill 165 GET Tax Increase

April 20, 2016, 10:34 AM HST
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letters to the editor 123I support proposed Bill 165, which would increase the state general excise tax ½% in Hawaii County. This additional funding would be used to fund transportation projects on the Big Island. The county has limited means to finance new highway projects. Federal Highway Administration funds, and bond floats are the primary sources to pay for these projects.

The state of Hawaii receives roughly 160 million dollars from the FHWA on a yearly basis. Hawaii County receives approximately 18% of this funding. One highway project, such as Ane Keohokalole Highway phase three, will tie up the county’s share of FHWA funds for several years. This isn’t something prudent, as there is traffic hot spots all over Hawaii County.

The other option to fund these highway projects is floating bonds. However, the county’s bonding capacity is rapidly reaching recommended 15% budget ceiling. In other words, the county’s financial options to construct new roads is extremely limited at this point.

This proposed tax increase would address this problem. It gives Hawaii County additional financial leverage to match existing Federal Highway Administration funds, or other county monies to construct these highway projects in more areas of the Big Island where they’re needed.

I’ve heard the arguments against this proposed bill. It would unfairly put an economic burden on businesses, and the residents of this island. However, I look at the bigger picture, and see things much differently. Yes, there will be an economic impact from this tax increase, but it will probably be less than the impact traffic congestion has had on our everyday lives.

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Aaron Stene, Kailua-Kona

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