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Honolulu rail bailout becomes law with Ige’s signature

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    Gov. David Ige signs Senate Bill 4 into law today at the Hawaii State Capitol. The $2.4 billion funding package is aimed at rescuing Honolulu’s rail transit project.

Gov. David Ige signed into law today Senate Bill 4, the $2.4 billion funding package aimed at rescuing Honolulu’s rail transit project from its latest cost overruns.

Ige said his staff worked over Labor Day weekend to complete its legal and policy review and found “no fatal flaws.”

“I believe that this measure allows this most-important project for the City and County of Honolulu to move forward in a way that will allow it to be completed,” he added moments before signing.

The bill now gives the state increased oversight over the county effort to build rail — the largest public works project in the state’s history. It requires 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 tasks 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),” and allows for the state House and Senate to appoint two non-voting members to the HART board.

At today’s signing ceremony, Ige acknowledged that the measure’s increase of the statewide hotel-room tax by a percentage point irked many on the neighbor islands, but he said lawmakers would work toward a fairer apportionment of that tax across the counties.

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