On Oct. 5, then-governor candidate Neil Abercrombie held a news conference to unveil a 12-page plan on how his administration would implement his 43-page “A New Day in Hawaii” plan.
He told reporters that he would “not be raising any (emphasis added) taxes.”
“We intend to work with the existing numbers,” he said. “We intend to make maximum use of the public dollars. We intend to make maximum use of the capacity to restructure, reorient, re-prioritize what we’re doing with state government. We will not be raising any taxes. What we will be doing is utilizing state government in a way that brings the hope and change that people want.”
Here’s a recording from the news conference.
The campaign also issued a press release that day. In the press release he is quoted as saying:
“Our plan does not increase taxes,” Abercrombie said. “We will have to make better use of the revenues that we have while building a more resilient, people-based economy to serve future generations.”
“Based on the Lingle/Aiona Administration’s own projections, there will be room in the general fund for the next governor to restore broken services and for making smart public investments without raising taxes,” the report said.
On Monday, Gov. Abercrombie delivered his first State of the State speech.
The speech included at least five steps to help address the projected $800 million deficit over the next two fiscal years that appear to be tax increases.
Repealing the state tax deduction for state taxes
Taxing pension income like all other income for tax purposes
Increasing the alcohol tax
A fee on soda and similar drinks
Increasing the impact fees paid by timeshare occupants
Abercrombie press secretary Donalyn Dela Cruz said Abercrombie’s tax promise had been more narrow.
“I think in October, he probably was talking about the GET. Everyone back then was very focused on, when someone says, ‘am I raising the GET’, and his answer is no.” Dela Cruz was not part of the campaign and wasn’t present at the press conference.
Dela Cruz also said the deficit caught everybody by surprise.
“Nor did anyone know that we would have an $844 million deficit,” she told Civil Beat.
Bottom line, Dela Cruz described the tax points in the governor’s speech Monday as “a proposal,” not a fact.
“If you’re asking me if he’s raising those taxes, it’s a proposal,” she said. “Whether or not that passes the Legislature, we’re not sure.”
“He’s not raising the GET, which would affect the overall. He’s taking a look at areas in which there are cost savings. So, in regards to alcohol and soda tax, basically, in the end, he’s taking a look at the bigger picture in how that affects another area of cost. He’s hoping for people to really consider what they’re doing with their lives and be pono so they can be healthier individuals and feel the savings there instead of paying escalating health costs.”
To be sure, Abercrombie has at times qualified his remarks about the potential for tax increases. However, even in those cases, the implication was that he would not raise taxes.
“I have made clear that I will work with the budget revenues we have and ensure that public funds are spent responsibly,” he wrote in his 45-page “A New Day in Hawaii” pamphlet in September. “I’ve done this throughout my career. The people of Hawaii rightfully will not tolerate any tax increase until there are serious discussions on whether we are using our existing revenues in a way that matches our values and priorities.”
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