Rooted in Reason: Nurturing the Seeds of Liberty


Creative Accounting 101 by Hawaii State Legislature to Balance Budget by grassroothawaii
April 15, 2011, 1:18 pm
Filed under: Economy, HawaiiVotes

by HawaiiVotes

After the second crossover this week, 393 bills are still alive at the Legislature as lawmakers are trying to find every means possible to come up with a balanced budget, even ways that stand a good chance of being challenged in court.

By “temporarily” dismissing the requirements set by law regarding the use of public money and by repealing considerations and promises — including tax exemptions and credits, and special funds for specific purposes — made to businesses and taxpayers, lawmakers continue to play with fire when it comes to their balanced budget mission.

Case in point is Senate Bill 120, which is among the biggest money grabs this session. The bill continues to move along, albeit in a much different form then when it was first introduced.

The bill started out with the purpose of repealing 148 out of an existing 186 special funds, and now wants to go after a lot less of these funds, including “temporarily” repealing requirements that have to do with the Compliance Resolution Fund.

The Compliance Resolution Fund is funded by business, banking and insurance fees. Certain fees for the insurance division were raised last year (2010 Act 22 and Act 59) and now it seems there is a surplus in the fund that is being raided this year.

To see the 2010 Annual Compliance Resolution Fund Report from the Department of Commerce and Consumer Affairs, click here.

In SB120, the bill “temporarily repeals requirement that $2,000,000 of tax revenues from banks and other financial corporations be deposited into the Compliance Resolution Fund” and instead go into the general fund. And also, it wants the director of finance “to annually collect funds from the Compliance Resolution Fund to pay the interest payments on the General Obligation Bonds beginning on June 1, 2011.”

Included in other special funds this bill wants to raid or repeal is the transfer of $30 million from the Hawaii Tobacco Prevention and Control Trust Fund into the general fund by taking $15 million in each of the fiscal year’s 2011-2012 and 2012-2013.

Sometimes when lawmakers grab money out of a fund, it is required that money be returned, like in the Hurricane Relief Fund that is again up for being raided this session. For those kinds of raids, will it mean raising the fees to businesses and consumers in order to repay that money?

While the intent of Hawaii lawmakers is to create a balanced budget, aren’t they simply taking money from areas that currently have funds legally set aside for specific purposes and obligating the return of those funds in future budgets?

To see the status of SB120, click here.

Although the bills that remain alive will have no more public hearings, citizens may still voice their opinions on these measures by calling or emailing legislators or the governor.

Here is a list of all bills still alive this session.

To send an email to all legislators, go to:

sens@capitol.hawaiigov

reps@capitol.hawaii.gov

Or find your individual Senator or Representative at:

http://www.capitol.hawaii..gov/session2011/members/senate/senatemembers.aspx

http://www.capitol.hawaii..gov/session2011/members/house/housemembers.aspx

To contact the governor, go to:

http://hawaii.gov/gov/contact/

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