Lawmakers Break Down State's Surplus

Rep. Pono Chong
Rep. Pono Chong

HONOLULU (KHNL) - This year's state surplus stands at a whopping $700 million.

Hawaii taxpayers will benefit, but not everyone will see some green. The tax relief package passed by the Legislature will benefit low-to-middle income residents.

"We didn't want to spread it out so thin that everybody would only get $10. We wanted to give back something that was meaningful," said Rep. Pono Chong, D-Kailua, Kaneohe.

If filing jointly, a couple earning less than $60,000 can receive between $90 and $160 in rebates and between $100 and $300 in food tax credits. It'll affect about 60% of local taxpayers.

But some Senate and House Minority leaders are unhappy about it. They called this year's tax relief an insult to Hawaii taxpayers.

"If they'd work in a bi-partisan manner with the Governor, we could've had a balanced budget, provided for basic essentials and given the people of Hawaii the tax relief I think they so desperately deserve," said Sen. Fred Hemmings, R-Hawaii.

The majority of the surplus, about $195 million, is heading towards Health and Human Services. The Department of Education will receive $190 million and $75 million or 11% will go to housing the homeless.

Gov. Linda Lingle has not signed off on this, but House Finance Committee members believe she will.