Parents for Public Schools of Hawaii has followed and researched school funding issues since our founding in 2011. Over the years, when we ask parents what they love about Hawai‘i schools, most answer “the teachers!” While there are facility and program needs that are not supported by the current Department of Education budget, it is the shortage of qualified teachers that most alarms our membership. The combination of low salaries, the high cost of living, and difficult work circumstances have converged to leave our students with 1000 classrooms without permanent teachers in the past year.
This year, for the first time, voters face a choice — to back or defeat a constitutional amendment enabling the legislature to levy a surcharge on investment property dedicated to funding public education.
Hawai‘i is unusual among the states in the U.S. in that:
1) Hawai‘i is one school district. In other states, there are many districts funded by federal, state, and local funds.
2) Hawai‘i property taxes currently go entirely to the counties, in spite of education being funded at the state level.
3) Hawai‘i’s low property taxes encourage out of state and international investment, driving property costs up, reducing the share of properties owned by Hawai‘i residents. Foreign buyers propel Oahu to the third most expensive housing market in the U.S. (Star Advertiser, Mar 2018)
4) Nearly one-third of all Hawai‘i property taxes are paid by out of state owners. (Department of Business, Economic Development and Tourism Mar 2017 report)
Given a large number of primary candidate races and the unusual and important November education funding ballot measure, we decided to perform a neutral survey of Hawai‘i primary candidates for their positions. We are now sharing candidate views with our members and the public. We surveyed all primary candidates and 103 responded. Results from the responding candidates follow:
- 97% say that the teacher shortage is a problem
- 76% say the teacher shortage is a serious problem
- 55% say that the teacher shortage creates an inequity in schools with higher vacancies
- 74% say the teacher shortage must be dealt with urgently
- 78% say we should have some kind of property tax support for schools
- 73% will vote for the ballot measure for a constitutional amendment to permit the legislature to levy a surcharge on investment property taxes
- 77% will encourage their supporters to vote for the ed funding ballot measure
Read the very interesting and informative candidate responses to the 5th question ” Here is what I want to tell parents and voters about Hawaii school funding and this ballot measure…” in the Summary Report, Charts of Responses with Individual Candidate Statements.
Summary charts of candidate responses follow.