Political Tittle-tattle: News and Entertainment from Hawaii's Political Arena – Jan. 16, 2003-Duel Begins Opening Day of the Legislative Session Over Whether to Build a Light Rail or Rapid Transit System; Drug Test Legislators, Not Kids; Good Cop, Bad Cop Strategy Was Used on Lingle, Republicans; Opening Day Brought Out Usual Suspects, Festivities, Flowers; Governor Names Three New Appointees, Final for Her Cabinet; Battle Over Tax Increase Rages in City Council; Growing Djous; Hanging Out with MSNBC's Donahue

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“Malia headshot Image”

”Duel Begins Opening Day of the Legislative Session Over Whether to Build a Light Rail or Rapid Transit System”


While Sen. President Robert Bunda, D-North Shore, says it is time to dust off proposals for mass transit and light rail in Hawaii, Sen. Minority Leader Fred Hemmings, R-Kailua, says there is no reason to spend $1 billion on the city’s proposed Bus Rapid Transit System. Both received applause after making their statements during the Opening of the 22nd State Legislative Session.

See the full text of their speeches at:
*Sen. President Robert Bunda at “Remarks by the Senate President”
*Sen. Minority Leader Fred Hemmings at “Remarks by Senate Minority Leader”

It is becoming clear the issue of whether to build a rapid transit or light rail system in Hawaii will be a major focus this year in both the Honolulu City Council and the state Legislature. The project now proposed by the city will cost $1 billion to start and be subsidized for hundreds of millions of dollars annually there after for operations and maintenance. It will also demand lanes on already busy city and state streets be closed to allow the light rail to move freely throughout the city, while cars, trucks and city buses will use the remaining lane in each direction.

“Cal Kawamoto Image”

To fund the billion dollar plus proposal, Sen. Cal Kawamoto, D-Waipahu, yesterday proposed a 2 cent per gallon increase on Hawaii’s gasoline taxes, which are already the highest in the nation at 56 cents per gallon. Ironically, Kawamoto signed a pledge with the Americans for Tax Reform that says he will not introduce, support or vote for a tax increase. See: https://www.atr.org/pdffiles/state_wide_signers2003.pdf

Supporters of rapid transit or light rail, which include many of Hawaii Democrat leaders, say the state needs to invest in such a system to alleviate traffic. What they don’t say is what the issue of building a rapid or light rail system is all about