Hawai‘i Supreme Court Ends Con Am Question
The Hawai‘i Supreme Court on Friday, Oct. 19, 2018, ended the future of a proposed Hawai‘i constitutional amendment aimed at raising investment property taxes for education, making the question invalid and preventing it from being voted upon during next month’s general election.
The ruling, was issued on Friday afternoon. The proposed amendment read: Shall the legislature be authorized to establish, as provided by law, a surchage on investment real property to be used to support public education?
The courts said it was not in compliance with a state law that says “the language and meaning of the ballot question must be clear and not misleading.”
“The court’s ruling on the Legislature’s amendment means we must keep searching for a way to support the dedicated teachers and staff who make a difference every day in classrooms around the state,” Gov. David Ige said. “I am committed to doing just that.”
“It is unfortunate that the Supreme Court is not allowing the public to vote on this question after the Legislature vetted it over the past two years,” Hawai‘i House of Representatives Speaker Scott Sakai said.
“We are disappointed with the Supreme Court ruling,” said HSTA President Corey Rosenlee. This has been a multi-year fight to fund our schools and get the constitutional amendment proposal on the ballot.
“While we are sad about the ruling, there is still an urgent need that students have qualified teachers and sufficient school funding to provide our keiki with the learning environment they deserve. The fight for our schools does not end with the Supreme Court ruling; all of Hawai‘i must ask that our elected leaders work to ensure that our schools are properly funded.
“The current situation is unacceptable. We have more than 1,000 classrooms that lack a qualified teacher, crumbling facilities, and too many of our students are denied learning opportunities based on their special needs. We have heard throughout this campaign the loud voice of the community to improve our schools. While there might have been disagreements on the amendment itself, there is still the strong desire from our community to invest in education. As a community, we must strive to give our keiki the schools they deserve.”
“The fact that the Hawai‘i Supreme Court invalidated the proposed amendment is good news for all Hawai‘i citizens who value clarity in law and responsibility in government,” said Keli‘i Akina, president of the Grassroot Institute of Hawai‘i.
“The Grassroot Institute of Hawaii was a party to an amicus brief filed in support of Hawai‘i’s four counties, who were the plaintiffs in the legal challenge.
“We joined the amicus brief because we felt the language of the proposed amendment was vague and deceptive,” Akina said. “We hope the Legislature will take this opportunity to look at other, more sustainable ways to fund education without raising taxes.”