After much testimony and consternation, it looks like we'll continue
to pay increased general excise taxes for at least five additional years to
help pay for rail cost overruns. There is also still talk about adding on a 20-year
surcharge on excise taxes to allow for this the mobile mover to eventually go
to UH's Manoa campus and perhaps even Waikiki. And while the legislature
chastised the City to ensure compliance and completion, what do you think will
happen the next time money starts drying up or costs continue to rise? Do you
really think they'll stop construction? Do you really think they'll shut down
the rail cars hallway to town?
Perhaps this $3.5-billion traffic reducer, now $6-billion and counting, will do everything they say it will. But if it's so easy to get a disgruntled legislature to add more money to the coffers, why don't we use the excise tax option to fix up our crumbling schools? Why don't we ensure that teachers have supplies and a better learning environment in which to teach students? Why don't we make sure that kids needing food subsidies get more of the bare essentials at school each day to nourish their bodies and brains?
There are always a whole bunch of social ills that could be directly dealt with via a general excise tax increase- like homelessness, public/private affordable housing opportunities, and beach erosion, but the call to increase taxes has always been sacrosanct and surely is not politically correct for officials needing to be re-elected. But it looks like we found a way around our aversion to continue extra taxes to ensure that the rail show will go on. Meanwhile, hungry students will sit in 100-degree classrooms without books and watch the rail go by. Think about it…