HONOLULU (HawaiiNewsNow) - How to better fund public schools?
That’s the debate now underway after a ballot question on a proposed constitutional amendment that would have bolstered education funding was thrown out by the state Supreme Court.
Gov. David Ige said that Hawaii is the only public school system in the country that doesn’t get money from property taxes, so the conversation about school funding needs to continue.
“We should be able to look at non-resident or foreign landowners who have property here in the islands,” Ige said. “We might be able to assess a fee or surcharge in a way that can help our schools, but protect the resident home owner.”
Meanwhile, his Republican challenger, state Rep. Andria Tupola, says she voted to put the amendment on the ballot so voters could weigh in but she had concerns.
“I voted for with reservations. I stood up against the fact that taxation without the definition of investment was problematic. I also spoke out that I would not support any more money going toward the department,” she said.
If elected governor, she thinks the DOE’s $2 billion budget might need to be cut from the top to provide more at the school level.
“We have ineffective and inefficient departments. We need to get to the root of the problem before we dump more money into a department that is historically producing at a very low rate,” Tupola said.
Ige countered, “I think she (Tupola) doesn’t have full understanding of of the DOE’s budget. It is predominantly personnel costs. There’s not a lot of program money in the department’s budget."
Ige says there are other sources of revenue including modernizing the tax system, which he expects to generate an additional $100 million in taxes in the middle of next year.
Tupola opposes simply giving more money to the DOE. She favors more equity for charter schools and wants to better utilize existing facilities.