Let seniors go tax-free
Many seniors do not have a pension other than Social Security.
Many seniors must get by using their 401(k)/IRA savings, which they pay taxes on when they use them.
Also, some seniors have to get part-time jobs, the wages for which they must pay taxes.
So let’s be clear: Many seniors pay taxes on their retirement income, just not the privileged, higher-income seniors who have government pensions that get cost-of-living adjustments paid for by the other, poorer seniors who are paying taxes.
Also, other than government workers, most people do not get pensions anymore. And just because someone gets a government pension does not mean they are a senior. People can retire from the military as young as 37 and receive their pensions immediately and for the rest of their lives.
If Hawaii truly wants to make this a senior issue, then do away with the tax exemption for pensions and just make all income for people 65 and over tax-free. Or, for 65-plus, do as the governor wants and make all income under $37,500 for singles or $75,000 for couples tax-free.
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Bangkok not comparable
Timothy Deegan’s letter citing the rail system in Bangkok as an example of why we should proceed fails to mention four major differences between the Bangkok system and the one proposed for Oahu ("Bangkok wisely built rail system," Star-Advertiser, Letters, Jan. 31).
» Bangkok has a population of more than 10 million people.
» The Bangkok system circles the city, allowing all who live and work there to use the rail to get to any part of the city.
» The cost of building and operating any rail system anywhere is approximately the same regardless of how many people it will serve.
» The tax burden on each resident of Oahu will be 10 times that of each person in Bangkok.
Given the small area served by our proposed system, the relatively small number of people who will have to pay for it, and given the fact that there are other, much cheaper alternatives, is it worth it?
Delays will boost rail cost
If anti-rail groups delay rail through court actions, inflation costs could easily make Ben Cayetano’s predictions of a $7 billion rail come true.
Route changes did increase the cost of H-3, but time was the biggest cause. Thirty years of court-ordered delays is what pushed H-3 costs to more than $1 billion.
But Cayetano makes a good point about not repeating the mistakes of H-3.
All projects have contingency money for changes, but inflation costs for a two-year delay wipe out the contingency. It is most cost-efficient to move forward and make the appropriate design changes during construction, or even after construction, rather than delay the entire project waiting to fix the last detail.
Lottery makes most sense
Why are people trying to bring slot machines into Hawaii and Waikiki?
Is it to attract more locals to Waikiki?
Japan already has slot machines and pachinko parlors, so Japanese visitors won’t be paying to play on ours. Mainland tourists might play, but locals would be the mainstay if they can be lured back to Waikiki.
Why not just have the lottery like other states and sell tickets from 50 cents to $20 at different places like 7-Eleven and stations where local people and tourists could purchase them? Our schools would benefit, as would other aspects of the state and city governments.
It could help to replace some of that pork we won’t be smelling again for at least two years, and it most likely wouldn’t take food off the tables for local families.
‘Faust’ was quite a bargain
I find it impossible to remain unmoved by the labor of love that is opera in Honolulu. Literally hundreds of people, many of them volunteers, were involved in envisioning and creating the sets, costumes, staging, lighting, special effects and other elements, enhancing the music and character portrayals that brought "Faust" to life at the Blaisdell Concert Hall. They did a truly remarkable job — all the more so because they did it for just a handful of performances — for the sheer love of opera, and out of stubborn insistence that our city, however broke, must remain rich in cultural experience.
The great affection with which the audience greeted symphony members playing the score told the same story. After the final curtain fell, the glorious voices of the chorus and leads sang "Hawaii Aloha."
It was a privilege to be there.
Develop city golf course
This is an idea to raise revenue for the city: Develop the land currently used as the Ala Wai Golf Course. The land itself is worth tens of millions of dollars. Once developed, it could generate millions annually in property and hotel taxes, and revitalize Waikiki as a first-class tourist destination.
This land is underutilized as a golf course. This single asset could pay for needed repair and upgrade costs for water, sewer and road infrastructure for the next 20 years.
Civil unions are good for family, community
On Feb. 1, Illinois became the sixth state to legalize civil unions. This law will guarantee both straight and gay couples many of the same legal rights that are enjoyed by married couples in their state.
This new law extends the rights of those in a civil union to include automatic hospital visitation rights, the ability to make emergency medical decisions for partners, the ability to share a room in a nursing home, adoption and parental rights and pension benefits.
My partner and I have been together for more than 33 years. We are both educated, community-minded citizens who have worked very hard to create a life that most people would admire. Now residing in Hawaii, we bring to this paradise all of our talents, aspirations and extensive financial backing.
For most Hawaii residents, family appears to be of paramount importance. Hate is certainly not a family value, but recently I came across a letter to the editor ("Civil unions bill ignores the will of the people," Star-Advertiser, Letters, Feb. 1) in which the writer equated his application for a civil union between himself and his canine companion as being on the same level as if I were applying for my partner and myself.