Hawaii Legislature Seizes Control of Tourism Authority Budget

HONOLULU – After many years of “scathing” State audits, on April 27, 2018, the Hawaii State Legislature passed a bill during a conference committee which removes much of the Hawaii Tourism Authority’s (HTA) unfettered autonomy over how to spend its estimated $120 million annual budget. Several important questions remain including:

1) Will Hawaii Governor David Ige sign it?

2) What’s going to happen at the Senate confirmation hearing on Monday, April 30th for several new HTA board members put forth by Governor Ige? A reliable source told eTurboNews that the reconfirmation of at least one sitting board member remains “up in the air.”

Many of the changes redirect money or reallocate funds to other entities and areas. For example, one area, formerly $82,000,000, was reduced to $60,300,000 and has been reallocated for several different areas and projects. For example, $1,000,000 is being allocated “for the operation of a Hawaiian center and the museum of Hawaiian music and dance at the Hawaii convention center.” This popular idea has been discussed for years but has never been acted on by HTA.

Because of out-of-control administrative and payroll expenses as reflected in the 2018 HTA State audit, the legislation specifies:

– “No more than of $2,800,000 shall be used for administrative expenses. ‘administrative expenses’ means office equipment, salaries, and supplies.”

– “No more than $2,500,000 shall be used for research expenses.”

– “No more than $5,800,000 shall be used for sports marketing expenses,” a seemingly pet HTA program.

Some language in the legislation indicates other huge budget changes. Given the complicated legislative language, it’s unclear as to some of the actual impacts and we will continue to investigate and report back.

eTurboNews broke this ongoing story several months ago.

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