Hotel room tax income should stay in counties
The June 11 headline in The Maui News “Available funds fall short of meeting highway needs” brings to light the exact nature of the problem with the idea of popular democracy.
Oahu has about 75 percent of the state’s population (my guesstimate). Year after year, their representatives, who outnumber the outer islands by 3 to 1, keep voting to keep most of the TAT visitors pay when they visit neighboring islands. These visitors use our roads and other infrastructures. This use causes wear and tear that we residents end up paying for, either in vehicle maintenance or taxes to pay for the degraded roads.
Keeping all of the TAT generated in the county that generated it would go a long way toward paying for these necessary services. But, as one would expect in a democracy, the island with the most votes takes the money and resources of those with fewer votes.
Our Founding Fathers saw this flaw in a pure democracy and set us up with a representative republic that has rules preventing this. Of course, not all things could be foreseen so they set up a system by which that government, which is also the basis for all state governments, could be amended as issues arose. It is imperative that the outer islands propose and pass an amendment to our state constitution ensuring that tax revenues generated by the TAT in each county stays with that county. This is the only way I can see the Neighbor Islands keeping the money each generates in TAT.