Can Honolulu Afford the $5.3 Billion Rail Project? You Be the Judge

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City's rail rendering

BY JASON ONO – Former Honolulu Mayor Mufi Hanneman asked: Do we need it, can we afford it, can we maintain. Correct version: If we can’t afford it, we can’t maintain it, so we don’t need it. You be the judge if you think we can afford the city’s planned $5.3 billion elevated steel on steel rail project.

Honolulu is the:

1. Highest taxed City in the nation–combine GE tax, real property tax, with the highest State income tax in the the nation. Hawaii tied with Oregon for the highest individual income tax rate at 11 percent as of last Jan. 1, according to the Washington-based Tax Foundation.

2. Second most expensive city to live –Rent, food, retail, etc. (only place more expensive to live is Manhattan, New York.)


And we have the:

3. Second highest credit card debt in the nation, (As of May 2012, average Hawaii resident credit card debt was $7,250.00 per person.)

4. Highest gasoline prices in the nation at over $4.20 a gallon. Most states are below $3.50 a gallon.

5. Highest electric residential retail prices in the nation. At 24.13 cents a kilowatt hour, it is more than double the national average. And, Honolulu has the 3rd highest monthly electric bill at $149.00 a month. Yet, Constance Lau, CEO of HECO, gets an annual compensation of $2,515,000,00 and has formed an alliance with other pro rail development groups to finance ads to promote rail.


6. Hawaii has 12.5% or 160,000 of its people living at or below the poverty level, which is why food stamps have increased 80% in the last 5 years. Another burden Hawaii tax payers must bear.

7. The State does not have the funds needed to pay for almost $18.2 billion of state obligations, which amounts to $39,600.00 per taxpayer. So where do we get the money, in the Billions, to pay for roads repairs, sewer and water main upgrades, etc. from the city?

8. Honolulu is now one of 16 cities destined for bankruptcy.

In an article by Business Insider magazine, Honolulu is listed as having a deficit through June 2012 of $100 million and a budget in FY2011 of $1.8 billion.

In an article on April 11, 2010, Business Insider magazine listed Honolulu as the 5th most bankrupt city in the nation with debts of $140 million dollars.

Well guess what? In a more recent article, it says last year, Honolulu raised some property taxes to fill a huge $140 million deficit.

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