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Friday, April 28, 2017
Chaos: Rail Tax Bill Suddenly Turns into ‘Illegal’ 2.75% TAT Hike
By Rep Bob McDermott @ 9:55 PM :: 2766 Views :: Rail, Taxes, Tourism

Rail Tax Chaos!

Shifting Burden to Hotels Will Hurt Tourism and Employment

Governor Ige A No Show

Statement from Rep Bob McDermott (R-Ewa) April 28, 2017

Here’s what’s wrong with the 30% tax increase approved by the conference committee today.

  • It was done without one minute of testimony from those most affected.
  • It lacks any supporting research to determine the economic impact that raising taxes on hotels will have on Hawaii’s number one industry.
  • We don’t know how many current and future construction and renovation projects in Waikiki will now be canceled or scaled back.
  • We have no projections relative to growth or decline of hotel occupancy in the next decade and no data to determine how many jobs will be lost.

It is simply bad public policy.

This desperate proposal to raise the hotel tax to fund completion of rail also represents another failure of Governor Ige to take a leadership role.  While the Legislature is working to find ways to pay for the largest public works project in the history of Hawaii, the Governor is a no show.

SB1183: Text, Status

KITV: Kim believes the bill could be open for a veto, or a court challenge down the road.

MN: “We’ve given the city more money upfront and (that) provides a pathway to do bonding”

  *   *   *   *   *

Lawmakers tentatively agree on proposal to raise hotel tax for rail, education

Star-Adv April 28, 2017: House and Senate negotiators tentatively agreed this afternoon to a plan to increase the state hotel room tax to 12 percent to raise $1.3 billion to help fund both the rail project and public education.

House Transportation Chairman Henry Aquino suggested lawmakers drop the idea of extending the half-percent excise tax surcharge that is now providing most of the funding for the rail project, and instead increase the transient accommodations tax by 2.75 percentage points for 10 years starting January 2018.

The hotel room tax is now 9.25 percent, and the House proposal would increase it to 12 percent for the next decade, said Aquino (D, Waipahu). That tax increase would raise $1.3 billion by 2027, he said, which means the money would be available to the city for use on the rail project sooner than it would be if the state extended the excise surcharge on Oahu….

state Sen. Donna Mercado Kim said the last-minute proposal is legally questionable because it was never debated in a public hearing and did not comply with the lawmaking process that is set out in the state Constitution.

“The industry had no input, nobody had any input on this, so at this hour to come out with an increase in the (hotel room tax) that was never discussed, never went to a public hearing, to me is not legal,” said Kim, (D, Kalihi Valley-Moanalua-Halawa).

She said the bill will be vulnerable to a legal challenge if it passes because “the law says it has to have three readings, and it didn’t go through three readings.”

The proposal that lawmakers gave preliminary approval would divide up revenue from the extra hotel room tax collections, with $50 million a year deposited into a “New Start Education Special Fund,” Aquino said. Lawmakers would determine the use of that money next session, he said.

The remainder of the $1.3 billion from the hotel tax increase would go to the city to use on the rail project. Aquino said that because the money would be provided to the city years earlier than it would with an excise tax extension, it would amount to the equivalent of $2.4 billion in future excise tax revenue.

At the same time, the state would reduce the city’s current share of the hotel room tax by $13 million, and apply that money to the rail project as well, said Senate Ways and Means Committee Chairwoman Jill Tokuda.

An earlier proposal would also have diverted a some of the neighbor island counties’ share of the hotel room tax to help pay for rail, but Tokuda nixed that idea. “I think that is only fair given that this project is for the City and County of Honolulu, and it should not disproportionately impact the neighbor island counties,” she said.

Aquino also said the proposed bill “would prohibit the City and County of Honolulu from overextending itself fiscally by using public funds to reconstruct or redevelop the Neal S. Blaisdell Center, which is expected to cost nearly $500 million,”Aquino said….

Senate Bill 1183 now goes to the full House and Senate for further consideration….

read … Lawmakers tentatively agree on proposal to raise hotel tax 

CB: The deal must still be approved by the full House and Senate

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