Sen Pres Tsutsui: Maui Will Retain its Share of the TAT for Years to Come
By Wendy Osher
Senate President Shan Tsutsui of Maui discussed plans for a regional park complex, the release of funds for the Maui Memorial Medical Center, and vowed to work towards maintaing Maui’s share of the Transient Accommodations Tax. The comments were made during his keynote address for the Council Inauguration this morning.
Tsutsui, who serves as the state’s 12th Senate President, and first from the island of Maui, spoke on the challenges the council will face as they enter a new term, as well as obstacles the council worked to overcome in the last legislative session.
“During the 2010 legislative session, despite a shrinking economy, councilmembers worked with us to secure funding for many non-profits, schools, roads, harbors, irrigation systems, and health care centers throughout our county,” said Tsutsui.
Councilmembers also fought to preserve Maui’s portion of the transient accommodations tax, also known as the TAT, or hotel room tax.
“They worked with our Maui legislative team to convince other members at the legislature that the county’s loss of the TAT would be devastating to Maui’s public programs and services, and could result in an increase in property tax. A joint effort resulted in the counties keeping their share of the revenues, which ultimately benefited all of us,” said Tsutsui.
“As we continue to build upon the relationships between the state and the county this legislative session, let us focus on working collaboratively, and not turning against each other or attempting to raid one’s coffers in order to make up for financial shortfalls. And, If I have anything to say about it, which I believe I do, Maui County will continue to retain its portion of the TAT for years to come,” said Tsutsui.
Tsutsui also said he would support efforts to imporve water storage and infrastructure in the upcoming term. “Much can be done through state assistance, capital improvement funding for construction, repair and maintenance of new and existing systems for both agricultural and residential needs,” said Tsutsui.
As for future projects, Tsutsui voiced his support for the construction of a regional park complex to be used for soccer, football, baseball and softball fields. “This park will provide space for family recreation, and provide ample practice and playing facilities for young athletes. No longer will the state need to converge on Oahu for state tournaments. With our new facility, we will be able to host hundreds of off island families and provide a boost to our local businesses,” said Tsutsui.
Tsutsui said the state legislature over the last several years, has identified projects that provide both public benefit and immediate construction jobs for local residents.
“This year, my Maui colleagues and I, look forward to securing at least $100 million of these projects, and I will make it my responsibility to make sure that the governor releases these funds immediately. Let us not ever have to wait 24-36 months to get these projects moving once approved,” said Tsutsui.
On that note, just two weeks ago, Sen. Tsutsui had requested that the governor release $40 million in capital improvement projects, which included $15 million for the expansion of Maui Memorial Medical Center. Tsutsui took the opportunity to today to thank Gov. Abercrombie for quickly releasing the funds.
Tsutsui said that recent revenue projections, were based on an increase in consumer spending, double digit growth in visitor spending, and increased arrivals, all which he said points to brighter days ahead.
“Balancing the needs of today, with one eye on the future, will be critical,” said Tsutusi.
In addition to being the first Senate President from the island of Maui, Tsutsui is also the youngest to hold the post. He was born August 9, 1971, graduated from Maui High School in 1989,and received a BA from the University of Hawaii in Economics in 1994. Sen. Tsusui was elected to the Senate’s 4th District in 2202 and previously held leadership roles as Vice-Chair of the Ways and Means Committee, and Majority Caucus Leader. Outside of the legislature, he’s a business consultant for Atlas Insurance Company.