Gov. David Ige rejected the idea of extending the 2017 legislative session to consider a bill to fund Honolulu rail’s project.
Earlier today, Hawaii’s four mayors asked Ige in a letter to extend the Legislative session past Thursday, in hopes of finding a funding solution for rail.
The request came a day after a proposed funding solution for rail collapsed in the state Legislature, with the two chambers approving dueling amendments to the rail bill.
But in news conference this afternoon, Ige said, “I am not interested in extending the session unless there is an agreement in the Legislature,” on a rail funding bill.
He said it would be a “waste of time” to extend the session until the Senate and House agree on a plan.
“The Legislature, House and Senate is too divided at this point in time. I don’t think that it would be productive,” the governor said. “I think that any discussion of a special session is premature. There needs to be a plan about … what we can afford and how we would be fund it.”
The Senate version of the rail bill aims to extend the general excise tax surcharge an additional 10 years, while the House version looks to extend the GET surcharge one year and raise the state’s transient accommodations tax 1 percent over the next 11 years.
“I’m concerned over what happens in the next two days,” Honolulu Mayor Kirk Caldwell told members of the City Council today. He reiterated his support for the Senate version and said the House version “means a lot more pain for our constituents, the residents” because it would leave the city with a $67 million annual budget puka.
“I remain hopeful that common sense is going to prevail,” Caldwell added.
The letter to Ige, which was also signed by Hawaii County Mayor Harry Kim, Maui County Mayor Alan Arakawa, and Kauai County Mayor Bernard Carvalho, notes that the state’s constitution allows the Legislature’s regular session to be extended up to 15 days.
Ige acknowledged that while he does not plan to call for the Legislature to extend the session, state lawmakers can make that decision for themselves.