State Supreme Court invalidates Con Am proposal; HSTA continues fight to improve schools

The Hawaii Supreme Court on Friday invalidated a question on general election ballots asking voters if they want to amend the Hawaii Constitution to allow the state to tax property in support of public education.

Ruling in favor of Hawaii’s four counties, the court found that the wording of the question wasn’t sufficiently clear. Hawaii law requires that the language of a constitutional amendment be “neither misleading or deceptive.”

“The Chief Election Officer shall issue a public proclamation stating that the ballot question is invalid and that any votes for or against the measure will not be counted and will have no impact,” according to the order from the Supreme Court issued Friday afternoon. A written opinion is forthcoming.

"We are disappointed with the Supreme Court ruling and extremely grateful to thousands of teachers, parents and public school supporters who worked so hard to campaign for the Con Am. This has been a multi-year fight to fund our schools and get the constitutional amendment proposal on the ballot," said HSTA President Corey Rosenlee. "While we are sad about the ruling, there is still an urgent need that students have a qualified teacher and sufficient school funding to provide our keiki with the learning environment they deserve. The fight for our schools does not end with the Supreme Court ruling; all of Hawaii must ask that our elected leaders work to ensure that our schools are properly funded."

"The current situation is unacceptable. We have more than 1,000 classrooms that lack a qualified teacher, crumbling facilities, and too many of our students are denied learning opportunities based on their special needs," Rosenlee added. "We have heard throughout this campaign the loud voice of the community to improve our schools. While there might have been disagreements on the amendment itself, there is still the strong desire from our community to invest in education. As a community, we must strive to give our keiki the schools they deserve."

Gov. David Ige released a statement late Friday that said, "The Court’s ruling on the Legislature’s amendment means we must keep searching for a way to support the dedicated teachers and staff who make a difference every day in classrooms around the state. I am committed to doing just that."

Author: Keoki Kerr