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Rail bail-out bill goes to Ige after House approves


    The House passed Senate Bill 4, which will provide a $2.4 billion rail funding package bailout, in a 31-15 vote today. SB 4 opponent Maui County Council Chairman Mike White bid farewell to Mayor Kirk Caldwell just before the House vote was announced. Also pictured with Caldwell is Honoululu City Councilman Ron Menor and the mayor’s Chief of Staff Gary Kurokawa.


    The Honolulu rail project, shown here under construction in East Kapolei in May, is getting a cash life-line from a tax bill passed by the state Legislature this week and expected to be signed by Gov. David Ige.

A $2.4 billion plan to bail out the city’s rail project with state tax increases awaits Gov. David Ige’s signature, following a final vote by the House of Representatives today.

Thirty-one representatives approved the measure, while 15 opposed.

Ige issued a statement this afternoon thanking the Legislature for its work in special session this week, and saying, “the entire state will benefit from this strategic investment.”

“My cabinet members and I will be doing a final review as we do for all legislation, but I fully anticipate signing the bill before the Honolulu City Council meets on Tuesday,” he said.

The Senate has already signed off on Senate Bill 4, which would increase the hotel room tax statewide by 1 percentage point to 10.25 percent for the next 13 years to generate $1.32 billion for the cash-strapped rail project. The measure also would extend for three years to 2030 the half-percent general excise tax surcharge on Oahu to raise another $1.04 billion.

Lawmakers contend the spending package would allow the city to complete the 20-mile, 21-station project to Ala Moana Center based on the city’s own numbers, save more than $208 million in interest payments, and provide state oversight to help rein in costs.

To provide additional scrutiny of rail expenses, the bill would require the city to pay rail project vendors upfront, and then submit requests to the state for reimbursements from the excise surcharge and hotel room tax revenue. It also would task the state auditor with auditing the Honolulu Authority for Rapid Transportation, including “an examination of the financial records and an analysis of the financial management of (HART).”

Four attempts by Republican minority members to amend the bill on the House floor failed. Two of the voted-down changes sought to exempt the neighbor islands from the hotel tax hike, making it an Oahu-only increase, and require that a portion of the rail’s total cost be raised through private investment.

The partially built rail is significantly over budget, with estimated costs swelling from $5.26 billion in late 2014 to nearly $10 billion, including financing costs. The Federal Transit Administration has given the city a Sept. 15 deadline to show how it plans to raise the money to cover the budget gap. The FTA has already extended that deadline several times.

Lawmakers convened a special session that started Monday to hammer out a deal to help fill the city’s budget gap after deadlocking during the regular legislative session this spring.



Henry Aquino (D, Waipahu)

Della Au Belatti (D, Moiliili-Makiki-Tantalus)

Ty Cullen (D, Waipahu-Royal Kunia-Makakilo)

Beth Fukumoto (D, Mililani-Mililani Mauka-Waipio Acres)

Cedrick Gates (D, Waianae-Makaha-Makua)

Daniel Holt (D, Chinatown-Iwilei-Kalihi)

Linda Ichiyama (D, Salt Lake-Moanalua Valley)

Kaniela Ing (D, South Maui)

Ken Ito (D, Kaneohe-Maunawili-Kailua)

Aaron Ling Johanson (D, Fort Shafter-Moanalua Gardens-Aliamanu)

Jarrett Keohokalole (D, Kahaluu-Aliamanu-Kaneohe)

Bert Kobayashi (D, Diamond Head-Kaimuki-Kapahulu)

Chris Lee (D, Kailua-Lanikai-Waimanalo)

Matthew LoPresti (D, Ewa Villages-Ocean Pointe-Ewa Beach)

Sylvia Luke (D, Punchbowl-Pauoa-Nuuanu)

Bob McDermott (R, Ewa Beach-Iroquois Point)

John Mizuno (D, Kamehameha Heights-Kalihi Valley)

Dee Morikawa (D, Niihau-Koloa-Kokee)

Nadine Nakamura (D, Hanalei-Princeville-Kapaa)

Mark Nakashima (D, Kukuihaele-Laupahoehoe-North Hilo)

Takashi Ohno (D, Nuuanu-Liliha-Alewa Heights)

Richard Onishi (D, South Hilo-Keaau-Honuapo)

Marcus Oshiro (D, Wahiawa-Whitmore-Poamoho)

Scott Saiki (D, Downtown-Kakaako-McCully)

Joy San Buenaventura (D, Pahoa-Kalapana)

Joe Souki (D, Waihee-Waiehu-Wailuku)

Gregg Takayama (D, Pearl City-Waimalu-Pacific Palisades)

Roy Takumi (D, Pearl City-Waipio-Pearl Harbor)

Justin Woodson (D, Kahului-Wailuku-Puunene)

Ryan Yamane (D, Mililani-Waipio-Waikele)

Kyle Yamashita (D, Sprecklesville-Upcountry Maui)


Tom Brower (D, Waikiki-Ala Moana-Kakaako)

Romy Cachola, (D, Sand Island-Kalihi-Airport)

Richard Creagan (D, Naalehu-Captain Cook-Keauhou)

Lynn DeCoite (D, Lanai-Molokai-Paia-Hana)

Cindy Evans (D, Kaupulehu-Waimea-Halaula)

Sam Kong (D, Halawa-Aiea-Newtown)

Nicole Lowen (D, Holualoa-Kailua-Kona- Honokohau)

Angus McKelvey (D, Lahaina-Kaanapali-Honokohau)

Sean Quinlan (D, Wailua-Kahuku-Waiahole)

Calvin Say (D, Palolo-St. Louis Heights-Kaimuki)

Cynthia Thielen (R, Kailua-Kaneohe)

Chris Todd (D, Hilo-Waiakea-Keaukaha)

James Tokioka (D, Wailua-Hanamaulu-Lihue)

Andria Tupola (R, Kalaleloa-Ko Olina-Maili)

Gene Ward (R, Kalama Valley-Queen’s Gate-Hawaii Kai)


Rep. Isaac Choy (D, Manoa-Punahou-Moiliili)

Reps. Sharon Har (D, Kapolei-Makakilo)

Mark Hashem (D, Hahaione Valley-Aina Haina-Kahala)

Scott Nishimoto (D, McCully-Moiliili-Kapahulu)

Lauren Matsumoto (R, Mililani-Schofield-Kunia)

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