BY JIM DOOLEY

Governor Neil Abercromnbie is proposing new increases to vehicle ownership taxes and fees that have already jumped substantially in recent years.

Under two measures that were passed today by the state Senate Transportation and International Affairs Committee, the state would double the vehicle weight tax and impose an 80 per cent increase in the annual motor vehicle registration fee.

The levies would come on top of vehicle fees already collected by the counties.

Interim Transportation Department director Glenn Okimoto said the state portion of the vehicle registration fee would increase from $25 to $45 dollars and would raise $34 million for maintenance of highways.

Weight taxes would double, depending on the size of the car or truck, with the extra income also flowing in to the highway fund.

All told, the “revenue enhancements” would add between $50 and $60 million to the fund.

Representatives from the trucking and car rental industries testified against the measures.

Gareth Sakakida of the Hawaii Transportation Association noted that Honolulu City & County increased the vehicle weight tax last year and this year, costing owners and average of $800 more per vehicle.

The new state charges would add $170 more, Sakakida said.

Christine Ogawa Karamatsu, lobbyist for the Enterprise, Alamo and National car rental chains, asked the senators to consider the implications of doubling vehicle fees and taxes.

“Much of this increase will be passed on to Enterprise’s customers in the form of higher rental fees” and will “will make the cost of a Hawaii vacation less attractive than other comparable visitor destination areas,” said Ogawa Karamatsu.

Sen. Sam Slom, R-8th (Hawai’i Kai, ‘Aina Haina, Kahala, Diamond Head), the Senate’s only Republican, cast the sole no votes on the two administration measures.

He said vehicle registration and weight tax increases imposed by the state and counties in recent years are already a burden on drivers.

Slom said that last week he paid the $313 bill for his personal vehicle. “It was $150 five years ago when I bought the car,” Slom said.

Slom is a columnist for Hawaii Reporter.

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Jim Dooley joined the Hawaii Reporter staff as an investigative reporter in October 2010. Before that, he has worked as a print and television reporter in Hawaii since 1973, beginning as a wire service reporter with United Press International. He joined Honolulu Advertiser in 1974, working as general assignment and City Hall reporter until 1978. In 1978, he moved to full-time investigative reporting in for The Advertiser; he joined KITV news in 1996 as investigative reporter. Jim returned to Advertiser 2001, working as investigative reporter and court reporter until 2010. Reach him at Jim@hawaiireporter.com

6 COMMENTS

  1. And a KHON2 reporter completely blew a Journalism 101 opportunity when she had Sen. Kalani English right in front of her – explaining that previous funds that were SUPPOSED to be used for road maintenance and repair were instead diverted to the General Fund to pay the unions. What she should have asked was, “And prevents the State legislature from doing that again – even after raising the tax again?”

    Another clear sign that journalism in Hawaii is truly dead.

    Where are you Matt Levi when we need you the most?!?!

  2. Good news about Matt Levi. He is working on a tv show series for Hawaii Reporter, which will air on KGMB and KHNL in the spring. stay tuned for more news and have hope. we will do our best to ask the tough questions at the right time

  3. […] Times have moved on though, our world is a bit more complicated and jobs and bills seem to get in the way of the simple life. Yet apparently our legislators want us to go back to those peaceful times not by choice, but by reaching deep into our pockets until we have nothing left. After only a few short weeks in office, Governor Abercrombie proposed raising taxes on alcohol and soda, pensions, timeshare owners, and now vehicle taxes, which “have already jumped substantially in recent years.” […]

  4. I am not really surprised at Abercrombie. He’s a fast talker and a no brainer. As a Dem, he did not take Hawaii to our fullest potential. When he ran for Governor, I knew deep down that his promises were fake as Abercrombie cares about no one except himself. I clearly remember one speech where everyone applauded when he said he would not raise any taxes but find other means…….

    Then his so called Governor whom everyone stated would be great, brings prisioners home to Hawaii. So he keeps his promises to prisioners but not the public that elected him?

    Common folks, we need to find a way to get this turkey out of the oven before he roasts himself. He’s full of stuffing!

  5. Increasing the cost of keeping a car licensed in Hawaii seems absurd, but consider if Neal makes it $10,000 per year per car, that will certainly help reduce traffic — and encourage ridership of Carlisle’s inane train!

    Seriously now: We keep a old Toyota in Ohio and pay about $50 per year to keep plates on it — and no annual inspection is required. (Numerous studies have shown in the past such inspection programs do NOTHING to improve safety.) I pay about $250 per car + inspection fees here. Someone needs to ask Neal where the state taxes charged on vehicular fuel go? Oops, an inconvenient truth: These $$ go into the state treasury and not into the what are among the worst roads in the nation (despite no freeze-thaw cycle here in Hawaii).

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