HONOLULU (HawaiiNewsNow) - The proposed constitutional amendment that will be decided on by voters during the November general election was debated at the state Legislature for two years before it approved.
“What we have heard anecdotally over the years is the that public supports more revenue for public education. In some cases we’ve heard that the public would support higher taxes for public education,” said House Speaker Scott Saiki.
The ballot question reads: “Shall the legislature be authorized to establish, as provided by law, a surcharge on investment real property to be used to support public education?”
Saiki says if voters say yes, the issue goes back to lawmakers and that specific tax increases or impacts wouldn't be immediate so people shouldn't assume the worst.
When Hawaii News Now asked if it’s fair to say that all renters could be impacted by the amendment, Saiki said this: “It’s not really fair and that’s why I’m really saying that it will probably take a couple of years for the legislature to analyze how far this will be before it is implemented.”
He also says it’s not fair for HSTA to say a “no” vote is vote against education.
“Even if this proposal fails, I have to believe that the legislature will comeback to see how we can address some of the issues that are being raised by the teachers,” he said.
But the teachers union has failed in efforts to get money for schools through hotel, income and the general excise tax.
“We have tried three of the four and the same people that are complaining about this tax, fought us every single way,” said Corey Rosenlee, HSTA President.
Meanwhile, opponents warn if the amendment is approved, they don't trust the legislature.
"There's no guarantee that folks are going to be voting on, that they are actually going to see an increase in money spent toward education," said Honolulu Mayor Kirk Caldwell.
Saiki says lawmakers agree teachers deserve more pay, but how that’s done is the question.