SUBJECT: TRANSIENT ACCOMMODATIONS, Earmark Funds to Address Homelessness
BILL NUMBER: HB 908, HD-2
INTRODUCED BY: House Committees on Tourism & International Affairs and Human Services & Homelessness
EXECUTIVE SUMMARY: Adds yet another earmark to the TAT to address homelessness. Earmarks in general decrease transparency and accountability, and should be avoided.
SYNOPSIS: Amends section 237D-6.5, Hawaii Revised Statutes, to provide that $_____ per year shall be allocated to the Hawaii tourism authority to implement initiatives, in conjunction with the Hawaii Lodging and Tourism Association, to address homelessness in tourist and resort areas; provided that no funds shall be released unless matched dollar-for-dollar by the private sector. The funds are to be used for the provision of social services.
Requires Hawaii Tourism Authority to submit a report to the legislature at least twenty days prior to the convening of the regular session of 2019, which shall include: (1) the current status of any initiative implemented during the three-year period prior to the date of the report, in conjunction with the Hawaii Lodging and Tourism Association, to address homelessness in tourist and resort areas, including the costs thereof, source of funding, and participating entities; and (2) the current status of any plans to implement future initiatives, in conjunction with the Hawaii Lodging and Tourism Association, to address homelessness in tourist and resort areas, including the estimated costs thereof, potential sources of funding, other than legislative appropriations, and anticipated participating entities.
EFFECTIVE DATE: July 1, 2099.
STAFF COMMENTS: As with any earmarking of revenues, the legislature will be preapproving each of the initiatives fed by the tax earmark, so expenses from the funds largely avoid legislative scrutiny, and the effectiveness of the programs funded becomes harder to ascertain. It is also difficult to determine whether too little or too much revenue has been diverted from other priorities in the state budget.
If the legislature deems the programs and purposes funded by this special fund to be a high priority, then it should maintain the accountability for these funds by appropriating the funds as it does with other programs. Earmarking revenues merely absolves elected officials from setting priorities. If the money were appropriated, lawmakers would have to evaluate the real or actual needs of each program.