State seeks gas tax hike

Measures introduced in both the state House and Senate this week would increase gas taxes and other vehicle fees to generate additional money for the State Highway Fund.

House Bill 1054 and its companion, Senate Bill 1280, passed first reading in both chambers Thursday.

If approved, the proposed legislation would increase the state gas tax from 16 cents to 21 cents per gallon on Neighbor Islands, and to 22 cents on Oahu.

The legislation, which was proposed by Gov. David Ige’s administration, also would increase annual vehicle registration fees by $5 — from $45 to $50 — and increase tax rates for each gallon of diesel oil, as well as gasoline or other aviation fuel used for airplanes, by 1 cent.

The state vehicle weight tax also would increase. Those rates depend on the weight of the vehicle.

Sen. Lorraine Inouye, chair of the Senate Transportation Committee, could not be reached for comment by deadline.

The proposed increases could impact local businesses.

Harolene Mendonsa, owner of Ace 1 Taxi in Hilo, said any increase in gas prices would hurt her business and drivers.

“For me, yes, any amount of gas that goes up hurts us badly because (drivers are) not my employees,” she said. “They use my vans at Ace 1 to go out and work, but they pay their own gas.”

According to information included with the bill, highway systems have not kept pace with the growing economy, land use and increased demands for travel.

“Programmatic and project needs far exceed the available resources,” a justification sheet attached to the bill reads.

“The land transportation system will continue to deteriorate as demand for travel continues to increase and costs to manage, construct and administer the system increases.”

As fuel economy of vehicles improves and the use of electric, hybrid and alternative-fuel vehicles increase, “it is clear that the current gas fuel tax is not sustainable for future highway funding,” the document states.

According to information provided by the state Department of Transportation, an increase of 5 cents per gallon of gas would raise an extra $27.2 million in revenue.

The proposed change to the vehicle weight tax is expected to generate an additional $10.12 million in revenue, while higher registration fees will generate nearly $5.6 million, for a total of $42.9 million in additional funds, the DOT said.

  1. Ted January 26, 2019 6:56 am Reply

    Once again the residents of Hawaii are expected to bear the burden of road deterioration caused by increased tourist traffic. Why not increase fees on rental cars instead?

    1. Da Shadow January 26, 2019 2:29 pm Reply

      YES! we should encourage our local and state officials to make Hawaii too expensive to visit. All of us who depend on tourism for our livelihoods would fare SO much better. I mean, I can just collect unemployment so you can enjoy 1c cheaper gas.

  2. Steve January 26, 2019 7:23 am Reply

    Hum, Hawaii already is following California .5 here .5 cent there, this is how it starts! Property taxes, gasoline taxes, more social services, funding for the rail while funds for outer islands are spent on social services until the taxes force good people out. This is not a bash on California as it’s a wake-up call for Hawaii. Don’t be mesmerized by what you hear and see coming out of California. Over the holidays I did visit both San Francisco & So. Cal and it was literally disgusted to see the filth, drug users on the streets, trash on the beaches and yes discarded needles in the sand. Those that should be receiving help are shut out or forced to go through hoops for assistance.

    One of the best educations one can get is by exploring the world and meeting new people, being isolated from reality when the only source of world information is CNN is a recipe for disaster. My advice the next time you get off the rock, don’t go to Las Vegas, go to So. Cal and see for yourself the reality of what a government can do to destroy nice communities and get a glimpse of the future of Hawaii / Kauai.

    As some have pointed out California has had Governors from both parties over the last 20 years and both are likely at fault. Think for yourself and don’t get lulled into polarizing issues that will harm Hawaii for future generations.

    Perhaps its time to increase tax on airlines (aka landing fees) serving Hawaii, Cap flights and in the case of Kauai limit to no more than 1 million visitors a year or pay huge fines to operate if a Cap is exceeded. Taxing hard working families via a gas tax only penalizes and does not provide a solution to a problem that will continue to expand without controls.

    1. LJA January 26, 2019 2:29 pm Reply

      FYI STEVE, while the governors of California have been both Republicans and Democrats over the last 26 years (R=14 years; D=12 years). The democrats have held the majority in the Senate for the entire 26 years and have also held the majority of the assembly for all but 2 of those 26 years. I think that pretty much speaks for the conditions and taxes in the state of California. I lived there for 36 years and witnessed the devastation of a beautiful state. That’s why I got out of there and came back home to my Kauai. Now I see the same thing happening here.

  3. jjjames January 26, 2019 9:26 am Reply

    No no no no no.!! The electric and hybrid would STILL not be paying their fair share of the cost to repair our roads. Add a mileage tax paid at the time of annual vehicle registration or safty check based on the annual odometer reading.
    But First, before any increase is approved or implemented, a thorough and independent audit of all state gas tax funds for the last 20 years must be completed. They’ll never get past that.

  4. randy kansas January 26, 2019 9:38 am Reply

    oh great, just what we need;

    I cannot afford an electric car for my business, they do not stay charged long enough;

    next time oil goes way up, we will have $6 gas here;

    take, tax and spend…..take, tax and spend…



  5. kauaidoug January 26, 2019 9:59 am Reply

    Wonder how many times the gas tax has gone up and we are still sitting in the Kapaa Crawl? Give us , show us some plans for mitigation of this way too long a problem. No new developments, Hotels until this traffic blight is solved! Also lets look into actively encouraging new arrivals to buy LOCAL cars. I just had some new neighbors move here with 2 cars when now they wish they had just bought cars here. Is there any program available to educate or encourage new arrivals to leave your 2 tons of steel on the mainland? There is a platform for a council member or Mayor to run on.

  6. Oingo boingo January 26, 2019 11:01 am Reply

    Why not just tax the Airlines and rental car companies along with the hotels and Tvr’s, and leave us local people alone….we’re allready struggling with the ridiculously high cost of living here and low wages

  7. RG DeSoto January 26, 2019 12:42 pm Reply

    Perfect…first the county hikes the hugely regressive GET; now the state plans to up the tax on gasoline which is also regressive. All this for road and highway work that I wager will never happen. Hawaii voters are fools…they keep electing thieves all the while whining about unaffordable this or unaffordable that.

    Time to wake up….
    RG DeSoto

  8. harry oyama January 26, 2019 3:32 pm Reply

    Vote for Democrats and this is what you get

  9. Dude January 26, 2019 3:56 pm Reply

    Get ur yellow jackets on!

  10. WestKaui January 26, 2019 8:14 pm Reply

    How about taxing the tour buses at the commercial rate rather than the passenger vehicle rate? They have a much greater impact on the roads than cars…

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