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HOOSER: ‘No’ to public education budget cuts

A recent Honolulu news story reports the Chair of the Ways and Means Committee (WAM), Senator Donovan Dela Cruz, is proposing to reduce spending on public eduction in order to balance the over-all state budget. Hawai‘i’s 258 public schools and 37 public charter schools, are being told to expect budget cuts ranging from $213 million to $320 million.

Cutting the Department of Education budget to balance the state budget, will negatively impact every child in Hawai‘i between the ages of 5 and 18 — except of course those attending private schools.

There are a multitude of other ways to raise the money and balance the budget. Cutting education or other essential services that support those at the bottom of the economic ladder is unacceptable.

Please contact the Chair of the Senate Ways and Means Committee (WAM), Sen. Dela Cruz and the House Finance Committee Chair, Representative Kyle Yamashita.

Please also call Senate President Ronald Kouchi and House Speaker Scott Saiki, and tell them not to do it. These two gentleman are the leaders who in theory guide what happens or doesn’t happen at the Legislature.

Tell them all, no, no, no. Tell them as clearly and succinctly and directly (but yet politely and professionally) Do not short-change the future of our kids so they can avoid raising taxes on hotels, tourists, rich investors, real estate speculators, and others who can afford to pay more.

The message to them is simple: “Don’t do it.”

It’s unbelievable the chair of WAM would consider making Hawai‘i’s public school children pay these costs, rather than charging the rich absentee investors, the hotels and resorts, the tourists, real estate speculators, foreign corporations, and the uber wealthy.

Or if these folks (the vast majority of who do not live here) were tapped out (and they’re not), WAM could then look at increasing taxes on gun sales, alcohol, tobacco, luxury goods, and the sale of second, third and fourth vacation homes.

Maybe even our all blue, Democratic Party dominated, so-called progressive legislature could even legalize (and heavily tax) the responsible adult use of cannabis, such as 24 other U.S. states do already.

There are plenty of other ways to raise money.

No hotel has ever left Hawai‘i because our taxes are too high.

No hotel is suffering from reduced occupancy because taxes are too high.

No foreign investors are leaving because our taxes are too high.

The uber wealthy have no clue as to how much taxes they are paying here anyway, and certainly will not sell their zillion dollar beachfront estate and move away if we ask them to pay more.

To parents, students, teachers, and all who care about the future of public education — please join me. Make the calls. Send the emails.

Don’t balance the budget on the backs of our children is the message.

Would cutting the school budget mean increasing class sizes, hiring fewer teachers, reducing their already low pay, or continuing to defer their well-deserved increases? Could it mean canceling much needed technology improvements, or deferring even further building repairs and maintenance?

Could it mean a return to furlough Fridays? Remind our legislative decision-makers what happened during that debacle. Let them know that while you don’t really want to incur the time and travel needed to do so, you’re not opposed to visiting their offices in person to ensure the message get’s through.

Please keep all communications polite, professional, and to the point.

Investing in our children’s education is a direct investment in Hawaii. The conversation should be not about how much we can take away from them, but how much more we can invest in their future.

Again, the key decision makers are:

Senate President Ronald Kouchi senkouchi@capitol.hawaii.gov

House Speaker Scott Saiki repsaiki@capitol.hawaii.gov

WAM Chair Donovan Dela Cruz sendelacruz@capitol.hawaii.gov

Finance Chair Kyle Yamashita repyamashita@capitol.hawaii.gov
Source: The Garden Island

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