BY SAVE OUR JOBS HAWAII COALITION – The Hawaii state council on revenues recently lowered its revenue projections for the coming year, widening the biennial budget deficit to more than $1.3 billion. In their haste to close that budget gap, lawmakers and the governor have proposed a bill to increase the tax on alcohol. An increased tax on alcoholic beverages will undoubtedly hamper economic recovery, has the potential to irreparably damage the hospitality industry, and will result in layoffs of Hawaii residents.
In these tough economic times, the Save Our Jobs Hawaii coalition agrees with the governor when he said during his March 27 message on the state budget that “we all must pitch in” and “everyone must do their fair share.” But a targeted tax on an industry that provides thousands of jobs and millions of dollars in tax revenue is counterproductive. Singling out one industry and the thousands of employees that depend on it is far from fair.
“Hawaii is already the second most expensive travel destination in the country and the recent disaster in Japan has made it even more difficult for Hawaii to compete in the tourism market,” said Thomas Jones, president of Gyotaku Restaurants and a member of the Save Our Jobs Hawaii coalition. An additional tax on alcoholic beverages will make it even more expensive for visitors to come to Hawaii and will have a lasting detrimental effect on the hospitality industry, which is currently the state’s third largest employer.“
The State Tourism Authority recently announced $3 million for marketing Hawaii to the mainland U.S. in an attempt to make up for the anticipated drop in visitors from Japan. In his message on the state budget, Governor Abercrombie admitted that businesses are already being forced to “do more with less.” Raising the tax on alcoholic beverages will result in the loss of countless local jobs, affecting delivery drivers, restaurant and hotel staff, and the thousands of workers indirectly supported by the hospitality industry.
The Save Our Jobs Hawaii coalition supports the governor’s message to “focus on economic growth” and agrees that we need to support tourism, but adding yet another tax to the hospitality industry is an obstacle to that goal.
The House Finance Committee is scheduled to hear the latest version of the bill to increase the tax on alcohol (SB741, SD1) today at 3:30 p.m. in conference room 308 at the Hawaii State Capitol.
Save Our Jobs Hawaii is a coalition of individuals, small local-based businesses, retail stores and restaurant owners, mom and pop grocers and the many employees of Hawaii’s hospitality industry who have come together to voice their concerns and opposition to state lawmakers on taxes that kill jobs For more information or to join the coalition, visit saveourjobshawaii.com.