Local Connection: Paying for Rail

It's July, and it's been a very long time regarding the anticipated answer to the question of how Honolulu will pay for the biggest public works project in state history.

Given the urgency expressed in the closing days of the legislature, you would have expected something by now. What we have is a promise that they will work out a deal in time.

It's also becoming pretty clear that Mayor Caldwell seems to have been rendered irrelevant to the process. His proposal to extend the rail surcharge for another ten years -- all the way to 2037 -- is not going to be the final deal.

Key lawmakers don't like the excise tax burden on low-income people. The Mayor's plan would also add more than a billion dollars to the price tag in long-term debt.

Lawmakers seem to agree that there needs to be another source of money -- on top of the current rail tax -- to bring in more cash right away. The House proposed raising the hotel tax for a limited time, which is not a terrible idea.

We hope all the players have enjoyed their summer vacations. Now that they are all back from their taxpayer-paid travel, it's time to get to work.

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