Tax hikes favored over budget cuts
A survey commissioned by the state teachers union found that a majority of state residents would prefer that the state Legislature raise taxes — either income taxes on Hawai'i's wealthiest residents or the general excise tax instead of making further cuts to education and other state services.
The study, released yesterday, was commissioned by the Hawai'i State Teachers Association. QMark Research surveyed 501 Hawai'i residents. The survey has a margin of error of plus or minus 4.38 percentage points.
"To increase the funding needed to maintain and restore services, the public favors increasing taxes, instead of taking monies from special funds," Barbara An-kersmit, president of QMark Research, said in a news release. Ankersmit said that most of the survey responders said that education and restoring instructional time lost to furloughs of public school teachers was "very important."
Thirteen instructional days have been lost to public school teacher furloughs so far this school year.
When those polled were told the budget shortfall is expected to increase in the coming year, 73 percent of said they want the Legislature to find new sources of revenue.
Seventeen percent of those polled said they prefer further cuts to state jobs and services.
Respondents were asked how the state should raise the revenue.
Forty-nine percent said they prefer an increase in income taxes for people who earn $200,000 a year or more.
Twenty-three percent said they favor increasing the general excise tax.
Another 19 percent said special funds should be used, such as the hurricane relief fund or rainy day fund.
HSTA President Wil Okabe said the union supports raising revenues through a tax increase.
"The economic recession has struck a body blow to the state's public education system. With educational programs and services cut, layoffs to many staff and furloughs to others — including teachers — the outlook for Hawai'i's schools is grim," Okabe said in a news release.
Gov. Linda Lingle's office did not immediately respond to a request for comment late yesterday afternoon.