Bill Would Allow BOE Property Tax Authority to Bump Teacher Salaries

January 28, 2020, 6:00 AM HST (Updated January 27, 2020, 4:57 PM)
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Hawai‘i House Speaker Scott K. Saiki. Courtesy photo.

House Speaker Scott K. Saiki will try this session to get a referendum on how to pay teachers onto the 2020 ballot.

Saiki has introduced HB 2671, a constitutional amendment proposing that the Board of Education (BOE) have concurrent real property tax authority to fund teacher compensation.

“Concurrent” means the counties will retain their real property tax authority, but will also share it with the BOE, which could decide to increase property taxes as a way to bump teachers’ pay.

Property taxes already account for the vast majority of County revenues, supporting an annual budget of nearly $600 million.

“HB 2671 addresses the question of how to fund increased teacher compensation. The general public and business community must weigh in on whether taxes should be raised to increase teacher salaries, and, if so, whether a real property tax is an appropriate source of revenue,” said Speaker Saiki. “If approved by the Legislature, HB 2671 will be placed on the 2020 general election ballot and voters will have the opportunity to ratify it.”

The amendment question placed on the ballot would read:

“Shall the Constitution of the State of Hawai‘i be amended by repealing the counties’ exclusive jurisdiction over real property taxation and providing instead that the taxation of real property shall be under the concurrent jurisdiction of both the board of education and counties, thereby allowing the board of education to levy real property taxes to fund teacher compensation?”

A separate bill, HB 2662, has been introduced to statutorily implement the constitutional amendment if it is ratified. HB 2662 is a “short form” bill that requires the Legislature to insert statutory implementation language.

The bill has been referred to its committees for public hearings.

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