Education surcharge bill dies

A bill to generate school funding through a surcharge on investment properties and visitor accommodations has died.

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A bill to generate school funding through a surcharge on investment properties and visitor accommodations has died.

Senate Bill 683 would have asked voters to approve a constitutional amendment to create an “education surcharge” on timeshares, hotel rooms and other vacation units.

The Hawaii State Teachers Association, which had advocated for the proposal, said it could generate about $500 million to fund public education.

The measure died in the House and Senate Conference Committee Thursday.

Rep. Justin Woodson, a Maui Democrat who chairs the House Education Committee, said in a news release Thursday the bill was “fundamentally flawed and open to serious legal challenges.”

“We tried to fix it but concluded that it could not be properly done this session, and we did not want to set it up for failure,” Woodson said, adding the bill could be revisited next year.

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The bill had also garnered backlash from people in Hawaii Island’s visitor industry who worried it could hamper tourism.

Jasper Moore, owner of Lotus Garden in downtown Hilo, said last week his business took a hit several years ago when the state last upped taxes for visitors.

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