Hawaii voters to decide if a "rainy day" fund is needed
HONOLULU, Hawaii: On Friday, Hawaii legislators referred the proposed Hawaii Tax Rebates Amendment to the November 2, 2010 statewide ballot. With several states across the country facing budget shortfalls, including the state of Hawaii, lawmakers are asking voters if a "rainy day" fund should be created. Specifically the measure calls for giving the legislature discretion to issue rebates when the state runs a surplus and redirect funds to a reserve fund. The current state constitution requires that excess funds be returned to taxpayers, however, this particular proposal proposes redirecting those funds to a reserve fund. In 2010 taxpayers received a $1 tax credit in light of a previous fiscal year surplus. However, the state is currently facing a statewide budget shortfall.
Gov. Linda Lingle gave a similar recommendation in January but instead recommended the state save at least 5 percent of a two-year budget surplus. Critics of the proposed amendment argue that it is unlikely the legislature would deposit funds into the "rainy day" fund. Others argue that the current rebate requirement serves a purpose and should not be amended.