BY BETH FUKUMOTO – Today the eight members of the House Republican Caucus called upon their legislative colleagues to stop future raids of the highway fund that have resulted in Hawaii having some of the worst roads in the United States. Democrats in the House refused to commit to the people of the State that they would protect the State Highway Fund from future raids.
The House passed bills that would increase the vehicle registration tax by 80%, double the vehicle weight tax, and keep in place a surcharge on rental cars.
House Republicans proposed amendments to three bills (HB1101, HB1102, and HB1097) that would assure the money raised from increasing the vehicle weight, car registration, and rental car charges would be deposited only into the Highway fund and be used only to repair and maintain our roads. All amendments did not pass the House.
“These three bills will take a total of $68.6 million from the pockets of the drivers of our State,” stated Rep. Kymberly Marcos Pine of Ewa Beach. “Yet the Democrats in the State Legislature are not willing to tell the people of Hawaii that they will not take these funds from highway needs and spend them for something else.”
“The people of Hawaii elect us to be truthful with them,” Rep. George Fontaine of Kihei stated. “When we pass tax increases but are not willing to commit to using these funds for their intended purpose we are not being honest with those who use our roads and highways.”
“The Legislature took $144 million from the State Highway Fund in prior years,” noted Rep. Gene Ward of Hawaii Kai. “This is the reason why we have potholes, dilapidated bridges, unsafe guardrails, and deteriorating pavement. That is why we Republicans are committed to saying if we increase your highway taxes, we will use the money for highways—pure and simple.”
Democrats claim they have to raise these taxes because the Highway fund is depleted.
The House Republican Caucus is Minority Leader Gene Ward, Minority Floor Leader Kymberly Marcos Pine, Minority Policy Leader Barbara C. Marumoto, Assistant Minority Leader Cynthia Thielen, Assistant Floor Leader Corinne W.L. Ching and Minority Whips, Representatives George Fontaine, Aaron Ling Johanson, and Gil Riviere. For further information on the House Republican Caucus, please click here.
Beth Fukumoto is the Director of the House Minority Research