Investment property tax for Hawaii schools heads to ballot

HONOLULU — Voters this year will have the opportunity to decide if Hawaii should establish a surcharge on investment property to help fund public education.

State Senators on Monday approved a bill that puts the issue in voters’ hands.

Currently, the state Constitution authorizes counties to levy property taxes. If the amendment is approved by voters, Hawaii would join 49 other states in using property taxes to finance public education.

The Legislature, however, would have to revisit the issue to determine the parameters of the tax surcharge if the amendment is approved.

Democrat state Sen. Michelle Kidani of Oahu, who introduced the bill on behalf of the Hawaii State Teachers Association, said the “public should be assured that the Senate has no intention of taxing the homes” of residents with a homeowner’s exemption.

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