Rail opponents and supporters fighting over funding for rail - Hawaii News Now - KGMB and KHNL

Rail opponents and supporters fighting over funding for rail

Ben Cayetano Ben Cayetano
Bill Brennan Bill Brennan

By Paul Drewes - bio | email

HONOLULU (KHNL) - The fight over Hawaii's largest public works project ever, has now pitted opponents against supporters who say they're misleading voters.

The City expects to get hundreds of millions from the federal government, but anti-rail groups want to know "Where is the money?"

On television and in the paper, we've been peppered with ads both for and against rail. But according to some, the ads are misleading.

"To go out into the community and give people the impression the feds will give $925 million is false," said former Hawaii governor, Ben Cayetano.

Because, according to an email from the Federal Transit Administration, "It is too early to tell whether Honolulu's proposed rail project will receive new starts funding. The project hasn't yet been accepted into the program."

But the City insists, the money for mass transit will be coming.

"No we don't have it, we don't have it today. But this is not the day when we are supposed to have that money. All indications point to us receiving something in that range," said Bill Brennan, the spokesperson for Mufi Hannemann.

As our economy slows, rail opponents worry about the additional tax Oahu residents have been paying for the project. The former governor wants to suspend it.

"Maybe we should put a moratorium on the tax until the project is approved, so the businesses have some relief," said Cayetano.

But supporters feel rail could actually help us ride out this economic downturn.

"Rail transit is a good idea during good times, its even better during down economic times. It will be a boost for jobs and the federal infusion of money," said Brennan.

According to the city, the federal government has already given some money for the project, $15 million last year, and it expects another $20 million this year.

The war of words over one of November's biggest issues continues.

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