comscore Do you think lawmakers should extend the general excise tax surcharge for rail construction? | Honolulu Star-Advertiser
Big Q

Do you think lawmakers should extend the general excise tax surcharge for rail construction?

  • C. No way (774 Votes)
  • A. Yes, definitely (643 Votes)
  • B. Maybe, need to hear more (138 Votes)

This is not a scientific poll — results reflect only the opinions of those voting.

Comments (74)

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    • Anti railers had it right from day 1. Rail would be massively over budget, years behind schedule, an endless Nei money pit. Elected bureaucrats totally behind the power curve, no clue what to do.

      • Yes we have been. The craziest think is, in spite of the fact that everything is coming to fruition, we haven’t even seen the worse. When we hit Middle St, then everything will hit the fan. Then if this thing ever starts running, we will really feel it with the operation and maintenance.

    • I agree lespark…it is a true fiasco.

      Lol I actually think I don’t mind paying any extra petty excise tax, if only to watch those who slam rail only because they live in places that are not anywhere near it squirm in their barkas. It’s quite funny. I mean, if you are against it, fine, but be against it for good, solid reasons – not because you don’t reside near it like I notice many of your posts let up.

        • Many of those who are against rail isn’t against it because they don’t live by it. They area against it because of the way it was promoted. They are against it because all the lies told to the public to garner public support. They are against it because people were paid to try and discredit anybody who was against rail and voiced it.

  • Dumb question. They have no choice other than extend forever in order to pay for this insane project. They must fleece the people now and indefinitely to subsidize ridership. Otherwise each ride would have to be in the vicinity of $30 -one way.

    • Nope, I disagree to raising one rather than another as being better. NO to all of them. NO rail tax increase, no property tax increase, no gas tax increase, and get rid of that bottle tax. ALL of these are just methods that local government uses to address their FAILURE to get the job done within the means that they have. When we (public) can’t make ends meet we make adjustments and cuts to our budgets. If government leadership can’t get the job done then get out.

  • SFO BART proves our excise tax should be extended for eternity. Not for construction, but to cover future expenses that can never be covered by fares. BART had to go to the counties for money to keep the system from collapsing due to “deferred maintenance” old age. California tax payers are way to smart for an “excise tax” so they are trying to do bond issues to raise money.

    I voted “No”. I lived near the Daly City BART station during construction, 1971 to 1974, and was a community activist against those rapid transit knuckleheads. BART only operates because of income from the Golden Gate Bridge. Fares and subsidies were not enough to maintain the system. Now they gotta pay.

    • Here is the utter financial debacle of BART, a massive bay are never ending money pit. Do you see the similarites with Nei rail?

      “Workers from the two unions, which represent more than 2,300 mechanics, custodians, station agents, train operators and clerical staff, now average about $71,000 in base salary and $11,000 in overtime annually, the transit agency said. BART workers currently pay $92 a month for health care and contribute nothing toward their pensions.”

      Ref: 2013 news

      • Sadly, you’ll never see how much Kirk gets in kickbacks and how much he’s laundering through his bank because he outright refuses to allow for anyone to see the books or follow the money trail. There are an estimated 250 rail workers working on the rail, just where did most of the estimated $14-billion dollars go ($14-Billion includes the power plant to power the rail))? I’m sure the 250 union workers are only making around $250k annually but that doesn’t explain the billions missing because no one for a second with any common sense will believe that cement and dirt cheap Chinese imported steel re-bar cost billions!

        • Actually all rail funds are subject to Audit, cannot be blocked by Kirky Boy.

          Lets not forget how many times the Feds have had to step in and tell HART, our clueless elected bureaucrats, how to work rail to standard.

        • Rail operations are not expected to pay for themselves.

          OTOH rail is expected to improve our economy. Development around rail stations will provide much-needed housing to help lower the cost of living. Condo owners will no longer need two cars per family and they will have security against increasing rent.

          Traffic congestion will be decreased because more people will be taken off the road to take rail. If they continue to drive on the freeway without rail, the freeway would get very congested. Too bad rail opponents can’t see this basic logic. Our increased economic prosperity will increase our tax base and help pay for rail.

        • wiliki – Wrong again about rail reducing traffic congestion. From day one documents showed very little reduction in road usage due to the small carrying capacity of rail, new homes going in.

          Rail’s crushing monthly O&M is estimated between $20-50 million per month and climbing. Rail’s low recoup rate, between 20-30%, means taxpayer will be paying another transportation related subsidy. Look for massive increases in property taxes to cover this never ending subsidy.

          Rail will be a money loser extraordinaire for the Nei. Adding to the pension, educational, infrastructure and other taxpayer funded ongoing money pits.

          Our children and grandchildren will be bailing the Nei for a far more efficient and lower cost of living on the mainland.

        • Weewili…you have such little cred on this now that you really should re-read your statements and be ASHAMED.

          I think YOU need more help than your allegedly “needy” Jerry’s Kids

        • Not true. Better to have contractors work rail as their company covers the expenses. Not directly added to the Nei’s endless government worker pension money pits.

        • Yes , better if they are not government workers. Then the employers take care of their pensions. If they were City Employees, they would be paying into ERS from Day 1. The State and County employees pay for their Pension, no one else!

        • Not true again – “The State and County employees pay for their Pension, no one else!” Only way this statement would be true is if they had IRAs. They do not.

          Thanks to pension spiking, fund raiding, excessive union demands and just plain shoddy management, State pension system is $8 billion in trouble. Ref:

          State should have started moving all new hires to the 401k plan back in the early 80s when they first started. This move would have saved taxpayers billions of dollars in wasted payments.

  • The Excise surcharge tax is only for those who have “Excise tax licenses” MOST PEOPLE DON”T HAVE THESE LICENSES!!! AND those who make any money ONLY pay – ONE HALF OF ONE PERCENT (.oo5) EXAMPLE: if you grossed $10 thousand in any of the filing periods you would ONLY PAY – $50 dollars!!!! THATS ALL!!! It’s such a big benefit for the GREATER community to BENNEFIT from the Rail project.

    ALL these people complaining about the Rail cost are bringing FEAR to many who DON’T understand the “EXCISE SURCHARGE TAX” Works!!!!

    MOST OF THE RAIL project has been paid for ALREADY!!! Don’t get swayed by these loud mouth grumblers who don’t understand what or how much the GENERAL public is actually paying!!!

    The Rail project will improve ALL of our lives!!!!

    • You’ve been spreading bogus propaganda in support of the rail throughout the various comments in the articles. The GET surcharge is a double-tax for anyone working AND living on Oahu so it’s a 1% tax, not 0.5% as you claim so for every $100k you earn AND spend EVERY single OAHU resident pays almost $1,000 a year to pay for the rail.

      Let me give you the rundown on the details by providing an example.

      1. Your employer pays 0.5% the GET surcharge on your income. So for every $100k you earn, your employer pays $500.
      2. You pay the 0.5% GET surcharge on anything you buy on Oahu so if you take your $100k and buy 2 $50k cars for your family you pay $500

      Final GET surcharge TAX was $1,000 and guess what, this goes up by $1,000 for every $100k you earn and spend so it’s not as cheap as you claim. I for one would rather take my few thousand and use it towards gas to fill up my tank since I nor 99% of Oahu residents will NEVER ride this choo-choo since it goes nowhere.

    • 808Cindy says: “The Excise surcharge tax is only for those who have “Excise tax licenses” MOST PEOPLE DON”T HAVE THESE LICENSES!!!”

      Our excise tax is highly regressive and is hardest on the poor and struggling. This is not in dispute. It levies taxes on such essential purchases as clothing, rent, food, water, and medicine. It can be applied on multiple levels as good and services move through the economy and that is why it generates so much money from a deceptively “low” tax. It is closer to a 14% sales tax, if it were a sales tax.

      Any one who buys any goods or services here sees it on our bills. Have you ever even visited Hawaii?

      Please, please, please stop lying to support rail. There have been far too many lies already.

      If you can’t support this rail project with lying, then you can’t support this rail project.

      • So if someone uses YB to ship items to the outer islands, does YB not charge them anything extra? I seriously doubt YB would eat the cost. In actuality, the whole state is funding this disaster, some more than others.

    • Cindy is right. We need to focus on the long range benefit to our community. We hardly feel the tax but will end up with transportation infrastructure that we require and deserve for a modern world class city.

      • How can Honolulu be a world class city with failing infrastructure and crappy roads? If the long range benefit is a bankrupt state then your statement is true.

        • Read it again. He didn’t say the State was going bankrupt, he said the train would leave Honolulu in a bankrupt state (or “bankrupt condition.”)

        • @nitro – too late, the bankruptcy wheels are already in motion. Can’t pay the ERS unfunded debt and can’t pay to finish rail let alone maintain it. Those two issues alone are enough to cripple the state. Don’t worry, once the state is bankrupt that will wipe out the ERS debt and everyone’s retirement with it. Lucky you live Hawaii.

        • wiliki says: “So many outsiders come in and want to take over.”

          Like fake mainland-based shill bloggers who claim that no one in Hawaii notices taxes?

        • More like fake mainland shill bloggers that want to kill rail and run our economy into the ground.

      • uku – Sorry, she hasn’t got her facts straight, common mistake for all pro railers who still honestly believe rail is “On time, On budget.”

        Add rail’s massive new subsidies to taxpayers will only lower the quality of life for families as the bail from the Nei to a higher quality of life on the mainland.

        “Modern world class city?” Clearly you are not talking about the Nei. Too many bureaucratic failures, massive money pits like education, infrastructure upgrades, pension, on and on bleeding taxpayer’s dry.

        Just another day in the little 10th world of Hawaii Nei.

      • ukuleleblue says: “Cindy is right.”

        808Cindy says: “The Excise surcharge tax is only for those who have “Excise tax licenses”

        You’re both liars then. EVERYONE in Hawaii is affected by the viciously effective General Excise Tax, but no one more than the poor and struggling. Please stop with your self-serving lies.

        If you can’t support this rail project with lying, then you can’t support this rail project.

        Now, is today the day you finally have the courage to reveal where you live on the mainland and tell us what your connection is to this mess of a rail project?

        • C’mon, I know you don’t care about the truth but no one believes that only people with GET licenses pay general excise tax.

          There’s lying and then there’s insulting everyone’s intelligence while you lie.

      • Hawaii had a world class city but those days are long gone. Why do you think that everyone and their brother wanted to come to Hawaii ever since I can remember for the last 80 years?

    • The Excise surcharge tax is only for those who have “Excise tax licenses”

      Do you think those who have “excise tax licenses” and pay the surcharge do it out of their own pockets? It is ultimately passed on to the consumer. Places of business need to cover their overhead, and if their overhead goes up, they pass it on to the consumer, so prices go up for services and or merchandise. On top of that, the surcharge is added to any purchase the consumer makes.

    • 808Cindy – I know you are easily excited but your CAPS key keeps sticking. No reason to shout to try and make your post look better. Especially when the information you have is all incorrect.

  • This tax is already on the books till 2027. So pray tell, why do our lawmakers have to decide on this tax now? Our lawmakers don’t even know if we can ultimately afford rail and operate it!!!

  • People need to pay attention to the Honolulu City Council and the budget committee in December and January. One resolution they are considering would allow several members of the council to meet with legislators to “negotiate” on our behalf. These meetings would not be open to the public.

  • Extending the small half percent general excise tax surcharge is the easiest and most fair to taxpayers across the board to pay for rail. We hardly feel the GE tax which is preferable to raising real property taxes. West side residents are suffering in horrendous traffic congestion in their commute to and from work and need rail as a better alternative for our long term future. Rail needs to be completed all the way to Ala Moana to achieve full benefit from the project. We have come a long way with the rail and it would be foolish not to properly finish the job.

    • uku – Wrong again as usual. How many times are you going to refuse to believe the true statements showing rail will do little to nothing to reduce traffic. Especially as thousands of new homes go in, more cars on the road.

      You refuse to read and understand all the reports showing how the GET is draining the life blood from taxpayers, lowering their quality of life. To support rail’s ever increasing subsidy requirements the GET would have to be increased to even higher levels.

      Rail has been sold on a pack of lies from day one. Never, ever, “On time, On budget.” Expect it to get worse in the coming years.

    • ukuleleblue says: “Extending the small half percent general excise tax surcharge is the easiest and most fair to taxpayers across the board to pay for rail. We hardly feel the GE tax…”

      Factually wrong again.

      The general excise tax is absolutely NOT fairest. It is hardest on the poor and struggling families and taxes unavoidable purchase essential to life including rent, clothing, food, medicine and water. It is a highly regressive tax.

      You have been corrected time and time again yet you shamelessly persist on telling this debunked lies of yours, while gloating that you are unaffected by these higher taxes. What is wrong with you? Is money really worth more to you than simple human decency?

      And it’s obvious that the time has come for you to finally tell us where on the mainland you live and what your connection is to this mess of a rail project. Why do you continue to stonewall?

  • In my experience, once we give elected officials another source of income, for any initial purpose, getting them to subsequently relinquish those moneys in nearly impossible.

    • Exactly. Elected bureaucrats are just like the clueless educational bureaucrats. All talking shibai, saying all they need is a few more billion dollars and all would be fixed, Utopia.

  • We need some real numbers to work with here. We do not even know wehre or if this project is going. What an unbelievable mess. Thanks Mufie –> to Karlie_all

    • Not at all. Cars will use the same roads we already have choked with cars, still be stuck in traffic, still require parking places.

      Rookie posters…………………….

    • But roads are so much more expensive than rail.

      I don’t think driverless cars will never be cost-effective.

      For Public Safety, road maintenance will be more expensive than ever before with these cars.

      • wiliki – Wrong again. Road maintenance costs are the exact same for driver and driverless cars. What makes you think it would cost more?

        Much as we whine about road repair costs, they are essential to our economy. Carrying goods and people to keep the Nei running. Only problem is our DOT is hopelessly behind the power curve. Complete lack of professionalism, quality work. Just shovel slop jobs.

        • Baloney… high tech roads wil be budget busters. And we will need to exclude all foot traffic on these roads.

      • wiliki says: “But roads are so much more expensive than rail.”


        H3 is the gold standard of over budget, obscenely expensive pork barrel, insider good-ol’-boys road building and it cost an outrageous $80 million dollars a mile.

        Honolulu Rail is going to cost over $9 billion dollars for a 20 mile route. Assuming no more cost overruns (yeah, right) that works out to $450 MILLION DOLLARS / MILE or roughly 5 times more expensive than our nation’s most expensive interstate.

        Not to mention that roads pay for themselves by usage, registration, and gas taxes.

        Please stop lying

        If you can’t support this rail project without resorting to lying, then you can’t support this rail project.

        • Your lame and tired mantra “If you can’t support this rail project without resorting to lying, then you can’t support this rail project” does no good anywhere.

          Please stop.

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