Special Session on Honolulu Rail Funding Begins

August 28, 2017, 10:18 AM HST · Updated August 28, 10:23 AM
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State lawmakers convene today for a special session to discuss funding options for Oʻahu’s Honolulu Rail Transit Project.

Background images courtesy: http://www.honolulutransit.org/ ; Maui Now graphics.

The session comes after legislative leaders reached a deal last week to help meet the shortfall and ensure that federal funding is not jeopardized.

Under the proposed bill, there would be an increase in the state’s hotel room tax, and the general excise tax surcharge on Oʻahu would be extended for three additional years.  The TAT hotel room tax would increase by 1% to 10.25% for 13 years through December of 2030, generating $1.3 billion. The increase in Oʻahu’s surcharge, would provide more than $1 billion as well.

The proposal comes as the city faces a September 15th deadline to prove to the FTA it has the means to cover the shortfall.

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Meantime,The City and County of Honolulu maintains that it needs more funding that what has been suggested.  City leaders say $3 million is needed to complete the project to Ala Moana. If the legislature refuses to make the changes needed, City leaders say they would be facing as much as a $1 billion shortfall, which they say “would damage the City financially, harm its bond rating, and impact the taxpayers of the City & County of Honolulu by forcing a hike in real property taxes.”

The committee on WAM has scheduled a public hearing at 3 p.m. today in the Capitol Auditorium on Senate Bill 4.

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