We just completed a Special Session to provide additional funding for the rail transit project. After much debate, we passed SB 4, which will provide an additional $2.37 billion to complete the 20-mile project from East Kapolei to Ala Moana. SB 4 was signed into law by Governor Ige as Act 1 on September 5th. I supported the additional funding, because this project greatly benefits Senate District 20 and the legislation did include a requirement that the state conduct a forensic audit to get to the bottom of why rail costs have escalated from $5.42 in 2014 to $10 billion today. Here are the major features of the bill:
• Increases the Transit Accommodation Tax from 9.25% to 10.25% for 13 years from 2018 to 2031.
• Extends the existing half-percent General Excise Tax (GET) surcharge on O‘ahu from 2027 to 2030.
• Decreases the state's skim of the GET surcharge from 10% to 1%.
• Permanently increases the counties' share of the Transit Accommodation Tax from $93 million to $103 million.
• Requires state to conduct a forensic audit and annual reviews of HART.
• Creates a mass transit special fund and requires the State Comptroller to certify HART's expenditures.
• Requires the Senate President and House Speaker to appoint 2 non-voting, ex-officio members to the HART Board of Directors.
Me ke aloha pumehana,
Mike Gabbard, State Senator, District 20
Chair, Agriculture and Environment Committee