Political News

The Latest: Hawaii lawmakers take big step to aid rail line

Posted September 2

— The Latest on a commuter train planned for Honolulu and nearby suburbs (all times local):

6:50 p.m.

Hawaii Gov. David Ige says he expects to sign a bill that provides funding to bail out Honolulu's financially troubled rail transit project.

Ige said Friday he expects to sign the bill after a review.

He made the comment after the state House of Representatives passed a bill to raise $2.4 billion in taxes for the commuter train planned for Honolulu and nearby suburbs on the last day of a special legislative session.

The $9.5 billion rail transit line, one of the most expensive per-capita in the nation, is less than half built and faces a shortfall up to $3 billion.

Among other things, the bill would raise the hotel tax statewide by 1 percentage point to 10.25 percent for 13 years, through 2030.

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1:15 p.m.

Hawaii lawmakers are bailing out Honolulu's financially troubled rail transit project.

The state House of Representatives passed a bill Friday to raise $2.4 billion in taxes for the commuter train.

The planned rail line is among the most expensive per capita in the nation.

The $9.5 billion system is less than half-way built and faces a shortfall up to $3 billion.

Rail officials are up against a Sept. 15 deadline from the federal government to show they can pay for the project. Without that they risk losing $1.5 billion in federal dollars.

Republican representatives introduced floor amendments to cap money going to rail and exclude neighbor islands from a hotel tax increase but these failed to pass.

The proposal passed the Senate Wednesday and now heads to Gov. David Ige for his approval.

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