A Better Day with host Senator Sam Slom – Police Reform and Standards Board

A Better Day with Sam Slom and Aaron Hunger

Senator Slom discusses Police Reform with Aaron Hunger.

The question: Should Hawaii lawmakers approve a measure to create a statewide police training and standards board?

Aaron Hunger is an Instructor of Criminal Justice, Public Administration, Criminology, Political Science, and Emergency Management at Remington College; and a doctoral student at UH Manoa. He served as a law enforcement officer both federally, and at the county level on the mainland.

Direct Link to YouTube Show file

Contact senslom@capitol.hawaii.gov or hunger@hawaii.edu

Interviewing State Senator Sam Slom

State Senator Sam Slom is interviewed by Keali’i Akina on the November 10 edition of “Think Tech Hawaii”.

Removing The Cap On U.S. Social Security

Social Security Card

The Hawaii Senate Minority Research Office released a short research paper on the effects to Hawaiian residents if the social security cap is removed. There is much discussion among Hawaii residents on whether the cap on the Social Security payroll tax should be removed to bolster social security for the short-term. This paper outlines some of the effects and some possible solutions for the long-term fiscal health of social security for Hawaii.

Attached to this release is the Senate Minority Research Office Article “Removing the Cap on Social Security: The effect on Hawaii’s Small Business” by Tisha Panter, Senior Attorney and Director of Research of the Hawaii Senate Minority Research Office.



ALEC Ranks Hawaii as Worst State in Three Economic Categories


Hawaii’s economic outlook was ranked as the worst state in three categories published in the most recent edition of “Rich States, Poor States” by the American Legislative Exchange Council, (ALEC). They include:

  • Sales tax burden $42.62 per $1,000 of personal income is taken in “sales tax” — (Hawaii does not have a traditional state sales tax but does have the broadest “general excise tax” (GET) in the nation, which when equated to sales tax is the single most burdensome tax on goods in the U.S.
  • Estate/Inheritance tax is levied – 16% estate tax resulting in Hawaii receiving approximately $6.9 million in death and gift tax in 2013.
  • Right-to-work – The option to join or support a union does not exist in Hawaii. Hawaii law requires union membership in order to be employed in most public sector jobs.

Hawaii is also ranked #48 for a top marginal personal income tax rate (11%), and is only beat out as the worst state by New York at 12.7% (#49) and California at 13.3% (#50). At least 9 states do not tax personal income, and most others are in the single digits.

U.S. state corporate tax rates show Hawaii at only 2.4% below (39.2%) the worst state of Iowa which is at 41.6% of combined federal corporate tax and state corporate tax.  Note that Mexico’s combined federal and state tax rate is 30%, Korea is at 24.2%, and Ireland’s combined rate is 12.5%.

As for investment, in 2014 Hawaii ranks the 16th worst state or country out of a list of 77 for a top marginal capital gain tax rate of 29.4%

When it comes to the number for tax expenditure limits, Hawaii ranks one point above the states with the worst or least amount of expenditure limits. 

In the overall ranking for economic outlook, Hawaii came in at #40 out of 50 states, which is an increase of 6 points. That increase can be explained by the #1 rating calculated on our pre-2014 minimum wage increase (ranking based on $7.25 per hour).  It is expected that Hawaii will fall from this top spot as the authors of Rich States, Poor States state that “The Congressional Budget Office recently reported that raising the federal minimum wage from $7.50 to $10.10 an hour would destroy about 500,000 jobs by pricing low skilled workers out of the labor market.  …every 10% increase in minimum wages causes about a one to three percent decline in low wage jobs.  This is no way to help the poor.  …Most small businesses’ primary expense is labor and increasing the minimum wage means increasing labor costs.  This means that some businesses that are on the edge of profitability and cannot absorb these costs will end up going out of business.”

Rich States, Poor States also indicates there is cumulative domestic migration loss of 26,409 people from 2003 to 2012, with a net domestic migration loss of 2.4%.

State Senate Minority Leader Sam Slom stated, “I agree with the authors of Rich States, Poor States when they write “Most politicians know instinctively that taxes reduce the activity being taxed – even if they do not care to admit it. Congress and state lawmakers routinely tax things they consider “bad” to discourage the activity.” We see this when we tax tobacco and alcohol.  Why then, does our Legislature continue to have the highest sales tax burden and some of the highest personal income tax rates in the nation.  When is our government going to get it?  You can’t overtax the people to support bad spending habits, and then expect people to stay and invest in our state.”

Slom added “The Senate Minority has consistently introduced bills to alleviate these burdens.  Unfortunately, the majority has consistently blocked these efforts to relieve taxpayers.”

From the Hawaii State Senate Minority Research Office (edited)

Download the PDF Version of Rich States, Poor States at ALEC

Senate Minority Research Office Press Release (PDF)

State Set To Go Bust Unless Major Changes Are Made In 2015.

From the Hawaii State Senate Minority Office: 808 586-6780


Senator Sam Slom has serious concerns about the state of Hawaii’s finances. Slom said today “The recent Council on Revenues downgrading forecast indicates Hawaii is in a much worse position than what was anticipated. Hawaii is set to go bust in 2016 unless the new Governor and the Legislature make some serious cuts.”

“Senate Minority Research (attached) shows that, based on revenue forecasts, if the State continues to spend at the current rate Hawaii will use up its general fund carryover balances as early as 2016. The small 10% of department funds withheld this year by the Governor’s office will not be enough to stop the freefall as it is just a drop in the bucket ($14m) in a 6+ billion dollar state budget.” says Slom.

Senator Slom adds “Because the State is not constitutionally permitted to borrow from outside sources for operating expenditures, it is likely the State will tap into the Emergency Budget Reserve Fund and Hurricane Relief Fund.[1] Those funds are not large so that will be a small band aid for the problem and will not address the problem of overspending for long. The State and the Legislature will have their work cut out for them to deal with this mess resulting from kicking the can down the road for so many years. The final option to deal with the problem by raising taxes is the least desirable and burdensome for the people because we are already one of the highest taxing states in the nation.”

Attached to this release is the Senate Minority Research Office Article “The Implications of the Council on Revenues General Fund Forecast: What happened to the $844 m surplus?” by Paul Harleman, Budget Director, Senate Minority Research Office, September 15, 2014.

Note: for any clarification or questions pertaining to the financial analysis call Paul Harleman, Budget Director, Senate Minority Research Office 586-6988. Email: p.harleman@capitol.hawaii.gov.


Press Release 9-17-2014 (PDF)

Report:  The Implications Of The Council On Revenues General Fund Forecast: What Happened To The $844 Million Surplus? (PDF 975k)

Article: Hawaii Will Go Bust By 2016, Senate Minority Leader SaysWatchdog.org. October 1, 2014.