HONOLULU (KHON2) – Unions are calling on lawmakers to abolish the state general excise tax on food to help families in trouble. Proponents of the idea say bold initiatives are needed in these unprecedented times.
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Hawaii Teamsters, ILWU, and two other unions are working with lawmakers who put forward the proposal. They admit it is a hard sell considering the state is already grappling with a massive budget deficit, but argue that the money saved by families will go back into the economy and that many other states are already to do.
The unions say the state should get rid of the general excise tax on food and over-the-counter drugs. As in many other states, the tax would still be levied on cooked foods and in restaurants. Unions say the four percent discount can go a long way and save every family more than $ 500 a year.
“The money these families save when they don’t have to pay for the GET is actually going back into the economy. Whatever you save, you can start spending on other goods you have bought, ”said Wayne Kaululaau, president of Hawaii Teamsters.
It is actually one of two proposals that have been put to the legislature. The other would allow those who have received unemployment benefits not to pay income taxes on them.
“We seem neutral with ideas, our income, and the cost of living. I think someone has to take a brave step to lead us in a different direction, ”said Kaululaau.
But key lawmakers like Budget and Finance Committee Chair Sylvia Luke say the proposals will do more harm than good. With a budget deficit of up to $ 1.8 billion, eliminating the GET will add hundreds of millions of dollars to the deficit.
“It will force the governor and lawmaker to restrict government services even further, and the governor has continued to deal with vacations and this will guarantee there will be more vacations,” Luke said.
She knows that many families are suffering, but a larger deficit would also mean cutting more services that affect those who need more help during these troubled times.