Mayor Caldwell asks state lawmakers to extend GET surcharge to fund rail project

Honolulu Mayor Kirk Caldwell is once again asking state lawmakers to extend the county surcharge on the general excise tax to fund rail.

Caldwell, along with some city council members, testified in front of the Transportation and Public Safety Committees Monday afternoon at the State Capitol.

The mayor says he strongly supports two Senate bills — SB1183 and SB1176 — that extend the half-percent surcharge indefinitely and deletes the sunset date of 2027.

“If there is not an extension,” Caldwell said, “we do believe we are going to face having to give back the $1.55 billion to the federal government, which means we, the people of this island, will have to make up the difference it has to be paid back.”

The Honolulu Authority for Rapid Transportation says the construction cost of rail is $8.2 billion, and that’s not including the financing costs, which could add on nearly $2 billion.

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