Don't Raid, Make the Telescopes Pay!

Posted by Marti Townsend at Apr 08, 2009 01:26 AM |
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From Marti:

For all of you how took a moment to submit testimony opposing HB 1741 and the proposal to raid the Natural Area Reserve Fund, Land Conservation Legacy Fund, and the Affordable Housing Revolving Fund – MAHALOS!!!!   Thanks to your support, the Senate not only proposed far less cuts to the fund, but also proposed increasing the tax collected on property conveyances over $1 million.

But we can’t let up.  The House version of the bill (SB 884) still proposes zeroing out much of these funds that go to protect Hawaii’s watersheds (and therefore water quality), hunting, hiking, and fishing grounds, and control invasive species.   To take action now, click here and send a message to your Legislator (and all legislators) expressing your support for these conservation programs.

Remember to them tell them:  Don’t Raid, Make the Telescopes Pay!  Legislators would not need to raid conservation funds if they just collected rent from all of the foreign telescopes using state lands on Mauna Kea.  It is estimated that the state could collect as much as $50 million a year from the telescopes based on the market-value of the land.  In fact, state law requires that rent for state lands be based on the market-value of the land.  So, why not follow the law and protect the environment by collecting the rent?  Makes sense to me.

Thanks to the coalition of conservationists watching this bill for this breakdown of the Senate amendments to HB 1741:

Mahalo for your help thus far on HB1741! The Senate Ways and Means Committee met today, and proposed amendments that would decrease the Legacy Land Conservation Fund from 10% of the conveyance tax to 5% (prior version would have zeroed this out); decrease the Natural Area Reserve Fund from 25% to 20% (prior version would have decreased to 10%); decrease the Affordable Housing Rental Trust Fund from 30% to 25% (prior version would have decreased to 15%).  In addition, the amendments proposed tax increases for over $1 million sales, and for second home purchases.  The Committee passed the amended bill out of committee (Sen. Hemmings, Sen. Tokuda and Sen. Tsutsui voting no).  This is far better than the original bill, but even without the bill, we’re facing 50-60% cuts for these program due to decreases in conveyance tax revenues.

Click here to take action to protect these important conservation initiatives.

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