Senate Passes Bill for Constitutional Amendment to Support Public Schools

April 24, 2018, 8:07 AM HST · Updated April 24, 8:10 AM
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The Hawai‘i State Senate voted 23-1 on Monday to approve a bill that proposes a constitutional amendment to support public schools.

Senator Michelle N Kidani. PC: Hawaiʻi Senate Majority.

Under Senate Bill 922 voters would be given the opportunity to decide if the state should establish a surcharge on investment property to support public education.

Currently, the state Constitution authorizes the Counties the capacity to levy property taxes. If the Constitutional amendment is ultimately approved by voters, Hawai‘i would join 49 other states in using property taxes to finance public education.

Constitutional amendments are not required to be approved by the Governor, therefore the question that now proceeds to the ballot in November will be as follows: “Shall the legislature be authorized to establish, as provided by law, a surcharge on investment real property to be used to support public education?”

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Senator Michelle Kidani (Dist. 18 – Mililani Town, portion of Waipi‘o Gentry, Waikele, Village Park, Royal Kunia), Chair of the Senate Committee on Education who introduced the bill on behalf of the Hawai‘i State Teachers Association, explained that the language within the measure had been simplified through amendments to move the state forward in order to provide full funding for Hawai‘i’s public schools.

“The public should be assured that the Senate has no intention of taxing the homes you live in, that is homes for which resident owners receive a homeowner’s exemption. Nor does the Senate intend to approve any surcharge on investment properties valued less than $1 million,” said Sen. Kidani. “Further, no consideration has ever been given to a surcharge on commercial properties. The intent is and always has been to focus on residential properties.”

Should voters pass the Constitutional amendment, the Legislature will have to revisit the issue to determine the parameters of the tax surcharge.

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