(BIVN) – The State House of Representatives voted to pass Senate Bill 4 on Friday, funding Honolulu’s $8.2 billion rail project. The final tally was 31 yes, 15 no and five excused.
The bill will raise the hotel room tax charged to visitors on all islands by one percent in order to raise about half of the $2.39 billion needed to fund the completion of City & County of Honolulu project. Raising the Transient Accommodations tax – or TAT – was a controversial plan for neighbor islands, and it divided Hawaii Island legislators.
Big Island Representatives Richard Creagan, Cindy Evans, Nicole Lowen, and Chris Todd voted no.
The other Big Island reps, Mark Nakashima, Richard Onishi, and Joy San Buenaventura voted ‘aye’, with Onishi and San Buenaventura voting so with reservations.
On the floor of the house, both Onishi and San Buenaventura referenced their remarks made the day before during the House session. The video above is from that Thursday.
Onishi gives less of a reason than he does a comment: that he would have liked to have seen some funding to off-set the added burden being placed on the tourism industry. Onishi is chair of the House Committee on Tourism.
San Buenaventura employed numbers to explain her position, explaining how her research shows the Oahu-GET tax actually effects her Puna constituency to a greater extent than the TAT.
The bill now goes to Governor David Ige, who says he fully anticipates signing the bill “before the Honolulu City Council meets on Tuesday.”