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Councilwoman calls for new city budget with rail funding

With state lawmakers poised to adjourn their regular session today without providing additional funding for rail, City Councilwoman Kymberly Marcos Pine is asking Mayor Kirk Caldwell to prepare a new city budget.

In a statement released today, Pine announced that she wants Caldwell to prepare a plan to impose the budget cuts as well as fee and tax increases that will be needed to pay for the 20-mile rail line from Kapolei to Ala Moana Center.

”The Legislature has stated their position to not to agree to fund rail and it is time for the Honolulu City Council and the mayor to make some very tough decisions, including the possibility of stopping the project completely,” Pine said in a written statement. “Rail as of today is dead. We simply cannot pay for a project that we do not have the funds to complete.”

The rail project has a $3 billion shortfall, but state lawmakers have apparently deadlocked on how to provide more money for the project.

The partially built rail line is vastly overbudget, with the estimated price tag for the project increasing from $5.26 billion in late 2014 to nearly $10 billion today, including financing costs. The project is funded mostly from the excise tax surcharge, which generates about $250 million a year and is scheduled to end in 2027.

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