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MAYOR RESPONDS TO LINGLE’S COMMENTS ON EXCISE TAX  

 

            Mayor Mufi Hannemann today (Thursday, March 9, 2006) said that, despite Governor Lingle’s claims,  he did indeed  keep his end of the agreement regarding the excise tax surcharge for transit.        

            “We worked with the leadership in the House and Senate to ensure bills were introduced in both houses to have the City collect the tax and testified in support of the measure,” said Hannemann.

            In her state of the state speech last year, on January 24, 2005, Lingle said she looked forward to working with Hannemann on mass transit for Oahu. Last spring, the Legislature approved a bill giving the counties power to levy a half-percent excise tax for mass transit, with  the state Department of Taxation collecting the tax.

            Last July, however, as the veto deadline neared, Lingle announced she would veto the bill because she didn’t think the state should collect the excise tax for the county. She relented after House and Senate leaders promised to consider changing the law to have the county collect the tax this session.

            “While I always said this was a bad idea because that would mean duplicating what the state already does at unnecessary expense to taxpayers, in the spirit of cooperation, I agreed to work with the Legislature to introduce legislation to address the governor’s concerns and to work with her Department of Taxation to come up with alternate solutions.  

            “Our Corporation Counsel co-authored the legislation with her tax director. And City administrators and employees met numerous times with the deputy director of taxation and staff to see how we could make this work with the lowest cost to taxpayers. We were keeping our word. Furthermore, I personally testified before the money committees of both houses and the Senate Intergovernmental Affairs Committee in favor of those bills.”

            The mayor continued, “While no one can guarantee what the Legislature is going to do, the governor could have helped her cause by informing legislators of her desire to have the City collect the transit tax,” the mayor added. “It should have been apparent to the governor that her staff’s efforts to explain the administration’s position on her behalf were proving to be ineffective. That is why I suggested to her staff on several occasions that in order to make progress on this issue, it is important that Governor Lingle personally get involved and lobby the Legislature, especially members of her own party. Several members of the Legislature remarked that they found it interesting that there was no mention of the transit issue in her state of the state address in January.”

            Hannemann added, “While she may be disappointed in the outcome and may want to point a finger elsewhere, we did our part. We more than lived up to our commitment and she was simply missing in action when it mattered most.

            “We’re continuing to work toward a transit solution for Oahu, with the state providing the local funding mechanism,” said Hannemann. “If the governor is considering changing her position again, then we hope she is prepared to explain to frustrated Oahu commuters what her alternative ideas are to improve their quality of life.”

 

           

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Contact:

            Bill Brennan, 527-6928

            Mark Matsunaga, 527-5767

 

Thursday, March 09, 2006

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