Friday, January 5, 2001
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Posted on: Friday, January 5, 2001

School board taxation may be considered

By Lynda Arakawa
Advertiser Capitol Bureau

Some House Democrats are exploring the idea of giving the state Board of Education taxing power to raise money for education.

House Education Committee Chairman Ken Ito said the proposal was among the ideas from a brainstorming session of the committee.

"It’s just an idea that we floated around to help pay for some of the big expenses in the education budget and to keep the Board of Education accountable for their spending," he said.

Under the proposal, the Board of Education would take a percentage of the revenues from the general excise tax. The board would be able to raise its share, up to a certain percentage, for education.

Ito (D-Kaneohe) said the idea will be proposed to the House Democratic caucus sometime next week.

A similar proposal was floated in 1999 by then-Senate President Norman Mizuguchi. His bill would have given the Board of Education control over the income tax as well as the power to enact a sales tax to raise money for education. The bill went nowhere.

Ito said now there may be a stronger push for such a proposal because of the escalating costs of education and the federal court Felix consent decree ordering programs for special needs students.

Gov. Ben Cayetano yesterday said he thinks the idea is worth discussing, but he said he was skeptical about what it would do to improve the public school system.

"There are thousands of boards of education on the Mainland which do have taxing power," he said. "While it may be something that’s worth exploring to see what the problems may be, it would be a major, major step, and I’m not sure how much more that would improve education. It’s just basically transferring the taxing power from one political body to the other."

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