New taxes could mean higher shipping costs

Mike Formby
Mike Formby
Gov. Linda Lingle
Gov. Linda Lingle

By Leland Kim - bio | email

HONOLULU (KHNL) - Governor Linda Lingle, R-Hawaii, has harsh words for lawmakers as Hawaii's shipping industry gets ready for more cost increases.

"I feel sorry for people who are just struggling to survive and their elected leaders do this kind of, take this kind of action," she said.

Nearly everything that we buy and use comes to Hawaii by ship.  The governor said no to this extra fee for shipping cargo to the Aloha State, but the legislature  over rode her.

This fee is to pay for invasive species control and is on top of one passed by California lawmakers.

Hawaii's shipping industry is the heart of our economy, pumping goods and services into our island state.

But the cost to keep that machine running will get more expensive, thanks to new taxes.  The latest: a new fee to support the invasive species program.

"Well, that's a great example of people not understanding the impact of their legislative decisions on the economy and the workers across the state," said Gov. Lingle.  "When they overrode that veto, they said clearly, 'We just don't get it.'"

This means the price of food and other goods shipped into Hawaii will most certainly go up.

"It makes no sense whatsoever," said Gov. Lingle.  "The fact they overrode it shows a complete lack of understanding of what the families of Hawaii are facing right now."

That's on top of a $30 surcharge for containers coming from California, but there are even more taxes affecting our harbors.

For instance, there's a proposal to collect hundreds of millions in taxes to improve our harbors statewide.  The total cost for the project is estimated at $618 million.

Mike Formby, deputy director of the state department of transportation's harbor division, says it's critical to bring them up to standards.

"Appropriations the first year, roughly $120 million in bond issuance and the debt service associated with that is about $9 million that year," he said.

So, you are looking at potentially three new taxes that affect the price of shipping goods.

"Because that's again going to be passed onto the customers, it's going to increase the cost of living at a time when families are struggling," said Gov. Lingle.

Struggling now, and into the future.

The California cargo tax will bring in at least $400 million to fight pollution and congestion in the Golden State.  The impact of the invasive species tax has not been determined, and the harbors improvement tax still has to go through public hearings and legislative review.