Sunday | July 24, 2016
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Last seeks to level field with unions

The state spending more money than it’s bringing in is the No. 1 issue for Hawaii residents this year, nonpartisan state Senate hopeful Michael Last says.

“I would propose to make a more uniform tax base,” he said.

For one, he said, he would consider changes to laws about groups such as labor unions, which pay a minimum property tax on holdings.

He said he doesn’t want to raise tax rates, but having everyone “pay their full fair share” will raise state revenues.

Another measure Last, a 65-year-old Naalehu resident, would like to see enacted if he reaches the Legislature, is a complete elimination of the portion of Hawaii Revised Statutes that deals with mandatory union dues or service fees.

It’s unfair to require people to pay those fees to work for government employers, he said, a situation he personally experienced when he worked for Hawaii County.

Another way to increase state revenues is through a lottery, so long as young people cannot participate and it does not become mandatory to play, he said.

“It’s a selective tax, if you will,” Last said.

The state education system has problems, although he hears conflicting reports from parents about the exact nature of the problems.

He said he needs to review the Department of Education’s budget line-by-line, to see where he could propose changes.

He questioned how the Public Utilities Commission and electricity providers set their rates.

“We have an inverse rate charge,” he said. “The more energy you use, the more our cost per unit is.”

That doesn’t make sense, he said, because “there is a cost saving in quantity.”

The problem with the state offering rebates for people upgrading to photovoltaic systems, he added, is that someone else has to make up for the revenue spent on the rebate.

Last said he does support geothermal production and any other measures to reduce the state’s use of fossil fuels.

He also addresses Hawaii County’s budget shortfall.

“They claim we can get more money from Honolulu,” Last said. That’s not really the case, because “we’re paying it to Honolulu” in the first place.

Last had a proposal to reduce the number of abandoned vehicles alongside Hawaii’s roads.

He’d like to see “a refundable deposit” on vehicles, payable when a vehicle is purchased.

The deposit, perhaps $100 or $500, would be returned to the vehicle owner when they could provide proof the car was sold, shipped out of state or junked.