House passes TAT bill

LIHUE — A bill that allocates transient accommodations tax revenues to Kauai, Hawaii and Maui counties from July 1 through Dec. 31, 2030 passed through the House of Representatives Tuesday with 44 out of 51 votes in favor of the bill.

Now on its way to the Senate, Bill 648 would increase Kauai’s share of the TAT from $14.9 million to $24.4 million per year, Maui’s share from $23.5 million to $38.3 million, and Hawaii County’s share from $19.2 million to $31.2 million.

Honolulu City and County’s portion of the TAT would remain unchanged under the bill, at a rate of $45.4 million per year.

Rep. Dee Morikawa said she’s hoping the bill will pass through the Senate because she says it will help the counties pay for tourism impacts.

“Making expenses tie into a general plan, tourism strategic plan, or development plan will make sure the counties are using these additional funds appropriately,” Morikawa said.

Rep. Nadine Nakamura said she also voted in support of the bill because it gives Kauai County an additional $9.4 million in TAT revenues.

“If the Senate approves the bill, this will be a huge win for Neighbor Island counties who can use these funds to address the impacts of visitors on each island,” she said. “I’m pleased that my House colleagues today recognized that our counties do an incredible job in providing the deeded services and amenities to our visitors. They also recognized that counties need additional help to keep up with the cost of providing those resources.”

Rep. James Tokioka had a different view, saying without the funding in the budget to support SB 648, it’s ineffective.

“It’s all shibai,” he said. “The House has not set any money aside to pay for (SB) 648, so they’ll send it to the Senate and tell the Senate ‘you kill it, because it’s not responsible and we look good because we tried something.”

It’s a band-aid bill, he said, to make up for other legislative decisions that taxed Neighbor Islands, like SB 648.

The bill next goes to the Senate for consideration.

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