Wednesday, April 15, 2009

'Tea parties' target taxes

HILO -- Bearing signs saying, “Spread my work ethic, not my wealth,” “Stop the Spending,” and I.O.USA,” taxpayers rallied in seven Hawaii cities today to voice their displeasure over pending tax hikes.

It was part of a national “tea party” day in more than 300 U.S. cities in protest of the annual income tax deadline. Thousands participated across the county.

Hawaii’s rallies were organized by the Grassroot Institute of Hawaii, The Hawaii Republican Assembly, Studio Ryan, Mac Mouse, Admor HVAC and Joe the Builder Inc.

"The more Hawaii's taxpayers find out about what's going on in their government, the angrier they get and the more they want to get involved. That's why projects like the Hawaii Pork Report, and events like this are so vital," said Grassroot Institute President Jamie Story. "Government officials should know that we are watching and educating the community about what they are doing with our money."

Hawaii is among the highest taxed states in the nation and ranks near the bottom in economic freedom, according to recent national rankings.

"While taxpayers adjust their budgets just to put food on the table, the Hawaii State Legislature is raising fees for everything and is even planning a rise in the general excise tax,” said Paul E. Smith, President of the Hawaii Republican Assembly, which is helping to organize the event. “On top of all that, they increased their own pay by 36 percent! Voters should understand; without a great showing at the 2009 Tea Party, Hawaii voters will continue as economic serfs to the tax-and-spend politicians who control our government."

State lawmakers, however, say raising taxes is probably unavoidable this year in light of an almost $2 billion revenue shortfall.

“Raising taxes must also be part of the solution, and raising the personal income tax on the wealthiest of our society seems to be the best option overall,” said House Finance Chairman Marcus Oshiro, D-Wahiawa, in a statement.

“As we consider all the options available to use, it's important for Hawaii residents to keep an open mind,” Oshiro said. “Taxes are not inherently evil. A tax system allows government to plan for and provide the infrastructure and the services needed for our society to function. That tax system, however, should not only be fair and efficient, but structured in a way that promotes healthy economic growth.”

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