Rail Tax Update from Senator Maile Shimabukuro

Rail Tax Update from Senator Maile Shimabukuro:

Mahalo for expressing your concerns regarding the rail tax bill, HB 134. This measure will extend the current ½% GET tax for another 5 years, or until 2027. After careful consideration, I decided to support this measure for several reasons:

  1. I have been a bus rider since the 7th grade, and see the value of providing rail as an alternative form of mass transportation;
  2. Although I wish we did not have to, I believe we need to provide rail the additional funding needed to “finish what we started”;
  3. The alternatives opponents are advocating – maglev and light rail – are less favored. Maglev is more appropriate for larger areas and high speeds, eg, 150 mph. Light rail would take away valuable existing lanes of traffic, and would be subject to the same traffic delays as cars on the highway;
  4. The final version of HB 134 made significant improvements to the measure, such as mandating that the annual audit of HART be made available to the public via an annual report to the Legislature, and limiting the use of rail tax to construction expenses only;
  5. The Waianae Coast appears to be split on the issue. When rail was on the ballot, the Nanakuli-Maili community voted in favor of it, while the Waianae-Makaha community opposed it. Similarly, the Waianae Neighborhood Board voted against HB134, but the Nanakuli-Maili Neighborhood Board has not taken a position.

Groups who want more information about rail may contact Brennon Morioka, Deputy Director of HART, at bmorioka@honolulu.gov or 768-6186. HART is available to speak to groups who have questions about the rail project.

Here is a link to HB 134: http://www.capitol.hawaii.gov/measure_indiv.aspx?billtype=HB&billnumber=134

Please do not hesitate to contact me if you have any questions or concerns, at maileshimabukuro@yahoo.com or 586-7793. Mahalo!

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