Broken Promises by the Legislature

By: Trustee Rowena Akana

Source: Letter to the Editor, Honolulu Advertiser, February 23, 2010

From the Territorial Government to the present, politicians have consistently overspent.  This forces them to come up with “creative” ideas to supplement their shortfalls when the economy eventually sours. 

They wouldn’t have to look far if they simply managed ceded lands properly.  Thousands of acres have been leased by politicians to their friends for as little as a dollar a year.  A previous Governor even suspended landing fees at the airport, which sits on ceded lands, for two years to allow airlines to bring in more tourists.  We all know that didn’t happen.  It was just another sweetheart deal.

There is no question the state has mismanaged ceded lands.  However, this rationale should not be used as an excuse to sell such a precious resource.  A year ago, legislators voted to preserve ceded lands.  Now they’re trying to sell them.  How can we trust these people?

We need leaders who can balance budgets.  Then they wouldn’t have to raise taxes, legalize gambling or sell ceded lands.  This election year, let’s vote for people who will make the tough decisions needed to revitalize our economy.  We definitely do not need more creative ways to tax us or squander our resources.

Gaming tax law is hypocritical

By: Trustee Rowena Akana

Source: Letter to the Editor, Honolulu Star Bulletin, August 8, 2009

Thanks to the new law shepherded by state Rep. Pono Chong, Hawaii residents going to Las Vegas will owe taxes on all of their winnings which cannot be offset by any of their losing hands.

The law makes the state Legislature look hypo-critical. For as long as I can remember, all efforts to pass legalized gambling in Hawaii have failed.

The state Legislature has stuck to the position that gambling is not a panacea to solve our budget shortfalls or worth risking the 5 per-cent of our residents who become hopelessly addicted. Legislators have also said that gambling sends the wrong message to our keiki and that we should be teaching them to build a good life through education and hard work instead of encouraging them to just “roll the dice” with their future.

Chong has sold the soul of the Legislature for a measly $300,000 a year of potential tax revenue. The Legislature should move to repeal the new law. It appears two-faced not to allow gambling in Hawaii and still say it is OK to tax winnings that Hawaii residents receive in another state. They can’t have it both ways.