On behalf of the 350,000 members of the National Taxpayers Union (NTU), I urge you to oppose and vote against S. 147, the "Native Hawaiian Government Reorganization Act of 2005." This legislation, which is expected to come to the floor of the Senate next week, would unnecessarily create a new government within the United States for the sole benefit of the linear descendants of indigenous persons who lived in Hawaii on or before January 1, 1893. The new government would be recognized by the U.S. as "the representative governing body of the Hawaiian people" and among other activities would take control of state and federal programs for social services that spend money collected from taxpayers nationwide.
Although there are minimal expenditures from the U.S. Treasury associated with this bill -- nearly $1 million annually in Fiscal Years 2006-2008 and less than $500,000 in each subsequent year -- both the federal government and the State of Hawaii may be expected to turn significant land holdings over to the new entity pending further negotiations. Meanwhile, Hawaiian citizens -- who will have no opportunity to vote on this sweeping transformation -- could face seriously higher tax bills owing to the inefficient multiplicity of local bureaucracies that will surely result from the creation of a new government structure. Hawaii's state and local tax burden already ranks among the heaviest in the nation. Both native and non-native Hawaiians would be best served by public policies that reduce rather than expand the size and number of government burdens in the Islands.
Authorizing governments to treat citizens differently based exclusively on race has proven to be bad policy in the past, and it is no coincidence that as America has moved in fits and starts toward being a more "colorblind society," economic growth and productivity have increased.
There is no reason for the federal government to engage in the process of establishing new legal classifications that only create new layers of government and new opportunities to pick Hawaiians' pockets. Taxpayers and other advocates of a more united, merit-based society whose leaders serve the fiscal interest of everyone urge you to vote against this unnecessary and ill-conceived piece of legislation.
Paul J. Gessing
Director of Government Affairs