The state legislature is set to open a special session on Monday to decide how to pay for Honolulu’s 10-billion dollar rail project. As the debate has evolved, several business groups have emerged to push the project along. We get more on the story from Pacific Business News Editor in Chief A. Kam Napier.
As of Thursday, state Legislators said they had a reached a tentative deal for funding the city’s rail project. It includes raising the state’s transient accommodations tax and extending Oahu’s surcharge of the general excise tax for another three to four years. At stake for local officials is coming up with a financial plan that will assure federal officials to release $1.55 billion for the project.
Nudging lawmakers toward a solution are a number of business groups, which PBN spoke to this week. Developer Stanford Carr is the incoming chairperson of the five-year-old advocacy group, Move Oahu Forward. Carr tells PBN, “It just makes sense to finish it. We are already half-built and taking our sweet time does not resolve anything.”
Carr, whose Keauhou Place development is located near a future rail stop, says he has spent thousands of his own money on Move Oahu Forward advocacy. Other members of this group include Hawaiian Electric Industries president and CEO Connie Lau, First Hawaiian Bank chairman and CEO Bob Harrison, and Matson Inc. president and CEO Matt Cox. Another group, Friends of Rail, is comprised of labor and construction industry and economic development groups, such as the Kapolei Chamber of Commerce.
The Hawaii Business Roundtable, comprised of executives from the Islands’ biggest businesses, hasn’t formed a rail-specific group but its president, Gary Kai, says the roundtable supports completion of the full, 20-mile route. The roundtable has taken no position on how government should pay for it.