Ige plans to veto 28 of 268 bills approved in session, including one on hotel room tax

Published: Jun. 21, 2021 at 1:30 PM HST|Updated: Jun. 21, 2021 at 6:29 PM HST
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HONOLULU (HawaiiNewsNow) - Gov. David Ige says he plans to veto 28 out of 268 bills approved in the 2021 legislative session, including one that would dramatically change how the hotel room tax works and a measure that would have given Hawaii’s teachers bonuses of $2,200.

In a news conference Monday, Ige said he plans to veto the hotel room tax measure because it would limit the Hawaii Tourism Authority’s ability to manage the industry when arrivals are soaring.

Under House BIll 862, the counties would lose $103 million in state hotel taxes but would have been able to create their own additional 3% tax.

The Hawaii Tourism Authority’s budget would have also been slashed by 24%.

Ige says the hotel room tax was established to provide dedicated funding to mitigate tourism impacts on the community.

“I’m very concerned that the changes in this bill would severely damage shift to destination management,” he said. “We have heard loud and clear that our community is concerned. It’s not about attracting more visitors it’s about managing those the invite to come.”

Ige also intends to veto a measure that would have raided the state’s tobacco control fund along with a large education measure that included bonuses for teachers.

The governor previously said that the state Legislature did not have the authority to approve the bonuses, adding the pay bump was a collective bargaining issue.

Earlier this month, teachers ratified a two-year contract that freezes their pay through June 2023.

Ige acknowledged that his vetoes make some holes in the budget that must be addressed. He said those could be dealt with in a special session, but he added that one is not necessarily required.

The governor has until July 6 to make his final decisions on which bills he plans to veto.

In response to the governor’s list, House Speaker Scott Saiki said members will meet this week to discuss the planned vetoes and hopes to get more clarity from the governor.

“The governor has not made his rationale for vetoes clear in his written notice,” Saiki said, in a statement. “We hope that he will provide further rationale in the next few days. At that time, we will decide whether to override any vetoes.”

This story will be updated.

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