Tax Panel Chief Warns Of Fiscal Crater

Here's how Randy Iwase, chairman of the Hawaii Tax Review Commission, describes the fiscal threat the state faces unless it makes changes to its tax policy:

It's a giant meteor headed to the islands that will leave a crater the size of the one near Winslow, Ariz.

Meteor Crater, as it's called, resulted from a collision between Earth and a piece of an asteroid (sorry, not a meteor) traveling at 26,000 miles per hour some 50,000 years ago.

The crater (pictured at right) is almost one mile across, 2.4 miles in circumference and more than 550 feet deep.

If you want to localize the analogy, Iwase suggested, think of Halemaumau, the summit caldeira of Kilauea.

OK, we get the picture. But what should lawmakers do to prepare for the meteor?

That is the question at the very the top of the Tax Review Commission's agenda.

Commissioners met Thursday at the No. 1 Capitol District Building to hammer out a draft of revenue evaluation and policy recommendations to make to the Hawaii Legislature in December. The report is expected to be finalized when the commission meets again in late November.

"I know you guys like to talk about tax increases," Iwase told Civil Beat. "This is very important. This is not about tax increases. What this is about is this tremendous shortfall that will occur if nothing happens.

"And that's why I used the analogy of a meteor," Iwase explained. "We see the goddamn meteor coming, and if we do nothing about it, we will have Winslow, Hawaii. We're going to have a mile-wide crater in Hawaii's budget."

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