LETTERS for the March 25 issue
Why is the legislature considering tax hikes?
While optimism is cautiously growing for our economic recovery, businesses continue to face the devastating impact of COVID and their ability to provide services to customers. Hawaii’s businesses are at a precipice, with the steady beat of news about businesses being forced to close for good because of the pandemic.
Despite the precarious situation our economy and businesses are in, several bills being considered at the legislature this session will further exacerbate any efforts toward economic recovery.
One of these, Senate Bill 56 introduced by Sen. Stanley Chang, would, among other things, increase the personal income tax rate to 16 percent for taxable years beginning after Dec. 31, 2020 for single filers earning more than $200,000 per year, making this the highest in the nation. In addition, the bill would increase the tax on capital gains from the current 7.25 to 11 percent and impose a single corporate income tax rate at 9.6 percent (currently at graduated rates of 4.4, 5.4, and 6.4 percent).
The Chamber of Commerce Hawaii strongly opposes this measure because of the significant effect the increases would have on Hawaii’s economy, the rebuilding of our local businesses and the restoring of jobs. Hawaii’s business climate is not what it once was, and this bill, if enacted, will reinforce the image that Hawaii is a poor place to live, work and invest at a time when investment is sorely needed to get our economy back on track.
Furthermore, imposing additional taxes on struggling businesses and individuals could have other consequences, such as less charitable contributions, more residents moving out-of-state and reduced consumer spending.
Hawaii’s business community is at a critical point — where any additional business taxes could mean the difference between closing their doors permanently, filing bankruptcy or laying off employees.
Over the last year, local businesses, who are desperately weathering this economic storm, have been asked to step up and help slow the spread of COVID-19. This came in the form of complete shutdowns, ever-evolving restrictions, and for some, fundamentally changing the way business is done. While our business community continues to step up to the challenge, now is not the time to place an added burden on our economic recovery.
Finally, this past Tuesday, we bolstered the Action Alert on the minimum wage proposal by asking legislators not to pass the bill. If you haven’t responded, please take action by sending a letter to your State House legislator.
SHERRY MENOR-MCNAMARA, Chamber of Commerce Hawaii
Call The Parent Line if you need help
As a result of recent flooding, many families across the state will experience the effects of trauma and stress from the event. Some may not yet realize they are experiencing signs of stress, while others may look for resources to help deal with the aftermath of this event immediately.
The Parent Line is a free and confidential service administered by Child & Family Service (CFS) and funded by the Hawaii State Department of Health that can serve parents or community members who have concerns about how to help deal with traumatic events. Those seeking help can call (808) 526-1222 (or toll free 1-800-816-1222) and speak with a counselor over the phone. The Parent Line phones are staffed Monday through Friday from 8 a.m. to 6 p.m. and Saturday from 9 a.m. to 1 p.m.
The Parent Line is Hawaii’s premier resource on child behavior, child development, parenting, caregiver support and community resources. Experienced phone line staff can help problem-solve parenting challenges and child and adolescent behavior.
More information on the Parent Line can be found here: https://www.childandfamilyservice.org/programs/parentline/ or at http://www.theparentline.org/.
CHILD & FAMILY SERVICE, Honolulu
U.S. Government should promote the general welfare
An event revealing a great deal about the kind of government Americans want occurred this March, when members of the U.S. Congress voted on the American Rescue Plan. This legislation, staunchly supported by the Democrats, provided federal funding for the provision of life-saving vaccines, the re-opening of public schools, expanded benefits to the unemployed, a direct payment to millions of hard-pressed Americans, the lifting of millions of children out of poverty and other vital public programs.
And what was the response of Congressional Republicans? Every one of them voted to kill the measure.
The Constitution of the United States declares clearly, in its Preamble, that a key purpose of the U.S. government is to “promote the general welfare.” Furthermore, promoting the general welfare is the usual reason that people around the world support some sort of governing authority. After all, if a government doesn’t promote the welfare of its people, what good is it? For this reason, after years of Republican governance or obstructionism, it’s refreshing when the U.S. government actually lives up to its promise of promoting the welfare of the entire society, rather than a privileged few. Americans seem to agree, for polls have found that the American Rescue Plan is supported by 69 percent of respondents, with only 24 percent opposed. Moreover, opinion polls also report strong public support for massive U.S. government investments in job growth and economic recovery.
The popular vote for president provides a better gauge of public support, with the Democratic candidate outpolling the Republican candidate in seven out of the last eight elections. Perhaps the time has come for Republican politicians to withdraw from the public sector they so despise and go back to enriching themselves in the private sector, leaving the governing of the United States to people who are willing to promote the general welfare.
DR. LAWRENCE WITTNER, PeaceVoice