Kudos to our Big Island state senators for their opposition to the Honolulu rail bailout, Senate Bill 4 (Tribune-Herald, Aug. 27).
Sen. Russell Ruderman was especially vigorous in his defiance to the ruling party “fat cats” on Oahu who favor forcing neighbor island residents to help pay for Honolulu’s massive folly. Rail proponents say tourists, via an increase in the state room tax, will pay for a significant portion of the bailout.
While the visitor count is up, tourists are spending less — a lot less per capita. The high point in annual visitor spending was in the late 1980s when $18.3 billion, in today’s money, was spent by about 6 million tourists yearly. Forecasts project $16.2 billion to be spent by 9.1 million visitors for 2017 (Star-Advertiser, Aug. 27).
Sadly, Big Island state representatives — save one, Rep. Chris Todd — are in favor of indirectly increasing the cost of living on the Big Island by chasing away tourists and their spending, via higher room taxes. The more visitors spend on rooms, the less they will spend at Big Island eateries and various tourist attractions.
For Rep. Joy San Buenaventura to say, “I don’t like the fact that this has become a neighbor island versus Oahu dispute,” is extraordinarily disingenuous.
People to Ms. San Buenaventura: It is the neighbor islands against the tyranny of Oahu.
The rail project is an Oahu endeavor. The people of Honolulu voted for it. Make them pay for it. And this is not the worst of it. Oahu has a federal consent degree outstanding to come up with $5 billion to upgrade their sewage system by 2020. Should the neighbor islands be taxed extra to pay for Oahu’s sewage mitigation? Big Island state representatives might think so, based on their notion that Big Islanders should assist in the rail fiasco.
When the royal family moved the capital of the monarchy from Lahaina to Honolulu, the neighbor islands became the “stepchildren” of Oahu and are treated as such.
To our traitorous state representatives who support the heavier burden of big government on the backs of Big Islanders who are just barely making it: You have betrayed your constituents’ trust in order to “make nice” with the rich and powerful on Oahu in the furtherance of your petty political aspirations. Have you no shame?
Come next election time, the people will remember your treachery.