By MARINA RIKER
HONOLULU (AP) - State lawmakers killed a bill that would have made Hawaii the first state in the nation to offer long-term care benefits to seniors.
Hawaii lawmakers said the bill had too many problems to pass this session during a Senate Ways and Means Committee hearing Monday. It would have raised the state general excise tax to give eligible seniors a benefit of $70 per day for 365 days.
Opponents say the general excise tax is regressive, and an increase would hurt low-income residents who pay a higher percentage of their income on rent and groceries. Yet supporters say the bill would have helped family caregivers who must reduce work hours to take care of loved ones.
State estimates say seniors will make up nearly one-fourth of Hawaii's population by 2040.