Local Connection: Rail Hearing

August 21, 2017

Hawaii News Now
Commentary by Ric Blangiardi
August 15, 2017


With Monday’s hearing on Honolulu’s rail project, state lawmakers have begun the process of figuring out how to cover the three billion dollar shortfall.

Hopefully during the upcoming special session, lawmakers will keep their eyes on the one task at hand and not be distracted again by political grudges, leadership struggles and negotiation by ambush.

They should also remain mindful of what the public wants. That’s because the credibility of this entire project is already so low. If the public is unhappy with how they are paying for it, there could be an even greater backlash.

Recent polls show consistently strong support for completing this project as planned to Ala Moana. The surveys also show the public sees Oahu’s half-percent excise tax surcharge is a relatively painless way to pay, although no-one is happy with the extra billions that are now needed.

There is also some support for using hotel taxes, but solid resistance to using property taxes for rail.

That’s why the project should be fully funded with dedicated taxes other than residential property taxes collected on Oahu. That way Oahu residents, visitors and businesses will pay for the system that will ultimately be a huge asset for our community.