Influential tax critic dies

Influential tax critic dies
Published: Dec. 31, 2013 at 3:38 AM HST|Updated: Dec. 31, 2013 at 4:14 AM HST
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Lowell Kalapa
Lowell Kalapa

HONOLULU (HawaiiNewsNow) - He never held an elected office but Lowell Kalapa was one of the most influential voices in the state Legislature.

Kalapa, executive director of the nonprofit Tax Foundation of Hawaii since 1979, died at his home. He was 64.

"There won't be another Lowell Kalapa and that's a shame," said state Sen. Sam Slom, R-Hawaii Kai.

"I think that part of his legacy was saving us from worse tax consequence and even worse decisions."

Senate President Donna Kim said she didn't agree with Kalapa on every tax issue but said she always respected his opinions, which were backed by facts and figures.

"As far as the Legislature is concerned, he always was the second opinion. I saw him as a watchdog," Kim said.

"I always felt we needed more Lowell Kalapas."

Kalapa forged a reputation for independence, skewering the tax increase proposals and big spending policies of Republicans and Democrats alike.

He often expressed concerns about the impacts of higher taxes on the middle class and the poor as well as the business community.

"He cared about the fairness of the tax system for all -- for the little guy on the street and big business," said Michael O'Malley, president of the Tax Foundation's board.

"He thought it should be fair, open, even-handed and not full of shenanigans and loopholes that we've grown accustomed to."

A graduate of Punahou School, Kalapa receive a bachelor's and master's degree in journalism from Northwestern University.

He also served on the boards of several low-income housing companies and social services such as the Self-Help Housing Corp. of Hawaii and Parents and Children Together.

The Tax Foundation's board will meet tomorrow to discuss an interim replacement.

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