Hawaii Tourism Authority left out of state budget

Saturday, April 29, 2023


State lawmakers approved $64 million for the state-owned Hawaii Convention Center to fix its leaky roof, but left operational funding for the center and for the Hawaii Tourism Authority out of the final version of the state budget measure House Bill 300 CD1, which was approved Tuesday by conferees, and will head to both chambers for a final vote before it is sent to Gov. Josh Green for consideration.

HB 1375, introduced by Rep. Sean Quinlan (D, Waialua-­Kahuku-Waiahole ) along with other House members, now appears to be the most viable vehicle to fund operating budgets for the HTA and the center, whose annual budget of $4 million to $4.5 million comes from HTA’s annual appropriation.

The catch is that Friday is the decking deadline so to keep moving, these bills must be scheduled for a Friday conference hearing by 10 :30 a.m. today. Also, the bill in its current form would repeal HTA.

A similar bill, Senate Bill 1522, introduced by Sen. Donovan Dela Cruz (D, Wahiawa-Whitmore-­Mililani Mauka ), who chairs the Senate Ways and Mean Committee, is technically still in play, but unlikely to move forward as of Wednesday evening because House conferees had not been assigned.

The House Conference Committee for HB 1375 will be chaired by lead chair Quinlan and co-chairs House Finance Committee Chair Rep. Kyle Yamashita (D, Spreckelsville-Upcountry Maui ), Rep. Linda Ichiyama (D, Salt Lake-Moanalua Valley ) and Rep. Daniel Holt (D-Kalihi-Chinatown-Sand Island-Honolulu ).

They will be joined by Rep. Lisa Kitagawa (D, Kahaluu-Ahuimanu-Kaneohe ) and Rep. Kanani Souza (R-Kapolei, Makakilo ).

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