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Governor signs rail funding bill into law

September 5, 2017 - 3:37pm

HONOLULU — Gov. David Ige on Tuesday signed into law a bill that provides additional funding for Honolulu’s financially troubled rail transit project.

Ige said in a statement Tuesday the rail line is a strategic investment in Hawaii’s future and must be finished.

“I have heard the concerns of leaders and residents in Hawaii, Kauai and Maui counties. I recognize the uniqueness of each county and the fiscal challenges they face, with main revenue sources being property taxes and the TAT. I understand why they would like to see more support from the visitor industry and I intend to work with the county mayors, county councils and the Legislature on a fair distribution of the TAT,” he said in a prepared statement.

Lawmakers passed the legislation during a special session convened last week to address rail funding. Four Big Island House members voted no, and three voted yes. All four Big Island Senate members voted no.

The $9.5 billion rail line is less than half built and faces a shortfall up to $3 billion.

The new law raises $2.4 billion in taxes by extending Oahu’s surcharge on the general excise tax and by raising the state’s hotel tax by 1 percent.

Honolulu Mayor Kirk Caldwell said the bill’s signing shows Ige’s commitment and leadership. He said the legislation is proof of the hard work done by lawmakers during the special legislative session.

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