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The Honolulu Advertiser
Posted on: Monday, February 11, 2002

GOP seeks to amend excise tax

By Walter Wright
Advertiser Staff Writer

Republican representatives said yesterday they will vote today to give a $250 million tax break to Hawai'i residents who rent their homes, shop for groceries and have the misfortune to get sick.

House Minority Leader Charles Djou said tax on groceries, healthcare and rent is unfair.

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They want to give about the same amount back to property owners who put a $230 million surplus in the Hawai'i Hurricane Relief Fund.

House Minority Leader Charles K. Djou, R-47 (Kane'ohe, Kahalu'u), a member of the Finance Committee, said the state can afford to stop levying a gross excise tax on people's rent, groceries and medical care, and can afford to pay back $230 million in unneeded hurricane fund insurance premiums.

Djou, an attorney who specializes in business law, joined other members of the caucus at a press conference yesterday to urge that Hawai'i cut government spending and use the savings to stimulate the economy by putting dollars back in the hands of the people.

"The governor is talking about a one percent reduction in the size of state government, but that is too small," said Djou, noting that California Gov. Gray Davis, a Democrat, has called for a 15 percent cut in that state's spending.

Djou said the state could save $80 million a year through attrition if it did not fill half of the 3,800 state jobs that become vacant each year.

He said burdening average wage-earners with taxes on their rent, groceries and medical care is unfair in comparison with taxing people on their income.

And Djou said the gross excise tax, unlike the sales taxes in other states, adds a new tax burden at every transaction, multiplying the tax cost laid on the consumer.

Reach Walter Wright at wwright@honoluluadvertiser.com or 525-8054.