Archived: Victory after 3 Years- Education Funding Measure will be on the Nov Ballot

Thanks to church members and friends who helped achieve this!!

The bill (SB2922) to bring a ballot measure to voters to allow a property tax surcharge on investment properties over $1m passed.

Next step: major efforts will be needed to pass this measure.

Here is the HSTA (Hawaii State Teachers Association) summary:

Constitutional Amendment details (SB2922)

On April 23, the Hawaii State Senate passed Senate Bill 2922, a proposed constitutional amendment to create an additional source of revenue for our public schools, by an overwhelming vote of 23 to one. This Senate vote follows the State House session on April 10, during which representatives unanimously approved this bill.

We could not have secured this victory without your collective effort. Thank you to everyone who submitted testimony in support of our proposal. Our members and community supporters sent in more than 3,500 pieces of testimony in support of the ConAm, the largest amount for any bill this session. Thank you, also, to the members of our Lobby Team along with the Government Relations Committee, Board of Directors, Speakers Bureau, and our many community supporters who lobbied legislators to approve the bill.

Thank you also goes to our education chairs, Senator Michelle Kidani and Representative Justin Woodson, each chamber’s leadership, and the many other legislators who believed in us and stood up for us, the teachers, our public schools, our keiki, their families, and our communities. Together, we are stronger!!

Finally, mahalo to the teachers and staff who sat in the Senate and House galleries to watch the bill pass. Our teamwork demonstrates the power and importance of unions in creating a better future for ourselves and our children.

Passing this bill will let the people of Hawaii vote, for the first time in our state’s history, to finally fund our public schools properly. They have been underfunded far too long.

SB 2922, if approved by a majority Hawaii’s voters in the Nov. 6 General Election, will amend our State Constitution to establish an additional dedicated funding stream for education by taxing “investment real property.” State Senate and House leaders have been very clear, and Kidani restated their intent once more on the Senate floor late last month, that this Constitutional Amendment is to tax second homes valued at $1 million or greater, which would generate hundreds of millions of much-needed dollars each year for our schools.

The average homeowner would not be affected, because owner-occupants are exempt from this surcharge. Even someone who owns a second or third property, such as an apartment or condo, would not be subject to the surcharge as long as each of those properties isn’t worth more than $1 million.

This bill addresses two problems at once. First, Hawaii’s schools are chronically underfunded, with our state ranking last in the nation in the percentage of state and local revenue spent on our public schools. Persistent underfunding has led to a chronic teacher shortage, higher class sizes, cutbacks to arts, vocational and Native Hawaiian courses, unequal access to preschool programming and more.

Second, we are the only state that doesn’t use property taxes to help pay for public education, leaving us with the lowest property tax rates in the country. Real estate speculators have taken advantage of our low property tax rates to use Hawaii as their own private Monopoly board, driving up our cost of living by purchasing investment homes at prices residents cannot afford to pay. Last year, for example, 60 percent of all condos on Maui were owned by nonresidents. We must increase funding for our schools and stop wealthy investors from distorting our housing market. Our ConAm will do just that.

Our fight is not over. We still have to convince the public to vote yes on our proposal on General Election Day, Nov. 6. To accomplish that task, we will continue to need your help. Email info@hsta.org if you’re interested in working on the campaign to approve our ConAm.

Again, mahalo nui loa. Together, we can finally deliver the schools our keiki deserve.

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