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Sunday, July 30, 2017
July 30, 2017 News Read
By Andrew Walden @ 7:55 PM :: 1206 Views

No Hanahana -- Kaukau Anyway

Rail: Rod Tam Floats Magnetic Levitation

Report: Rail Tax Hike Would Compromise ERS

SA: …For the second time in five years, the state is being warned that its tax collections likely won’t be enough to cover its costs in the years ahead, which may mean tax increases in Hawaii’s future. (Not counting rail.)

If the unfunded liabilities for the public employees’ pension fund and the public employees’ health system continue to grow as they have in the past, “then it would be very, very difficult because the tax revenues over the last 10 years have not kept pace with the growing liabilities and other commitments,” Machida said.

Machida said Gov. David Ige’s administration has developed a six-year financial plan that covers state government’s obligations without relying on tax increases. That plan assumes state tax collections will grow by 4 percent to 4.5 percent a year through 2023, “but beyond that would be questionable, depending on how much if any tax revenues continue to increase,” he said….

Act 268 requires the state and counties to finally begin paying the entire annual required contribution every year starting July 1, 2018.

By then, the ARC for the state will have reached $811 million, and the combined required contributions for the state and counties will be more than $1.09 billion.

It will continue to grow, with the combined annual required contribution for the state and counties expected to climb to more than $1.35 billion in fiscal year 2025, and to peak at more than $2.33 billion in 2044.

That is troubling to some lawmakers. State Rep. Romy Cachola has repeatedly warned his fellow lawmakers that the state cannot pay the entire ARC year after year unless it raises taxes….

read … Tax collection too scant, analyst again tells state

Feds Give HART Sept 15 Deadline

Borreca: …Honolulu’s slow-moving rail project is sliding into another “what, me worry?” moment with deadlines approaching and little acknowledgement of the project’s dropping support.

The best example of just how critical things are getting for the Honolulu Authority for Rapid Transportation (HART) board is a stinging and largely ignored letter from John Henry Felix, businessman, former Honolulu Council member and HART board member.

“The credibility of rail transit on Oahu has virtually disappeared,” Felix wrote in a June letter to HART.

Felix wants a detailed or forensic audit of the rail project and perhaps more significantly, “an honest appraisal of the numerous alternative projects.”

While there have been repeated calls to HART and the City Council, which is in charge of guiding HART, the agency has not wanted to change direction.

But, Washington sources report that the Federal Transit Administration, which is paying for a portion of the rail line, has given HART until Sept. 15 to provide a financial plan for the project now expected to cost more than $10 billion, with interest charges figured in. Existing funding will only build to Middle Street and the city’s estimated shortfall is more than $1 billion.

Today HART has no new financial plan to show the feds. The last attempt at a plan consisted of HART, the Council and Mayor Kirk Caldwell repeatedly begging for more money from Oahu taxpayers via the increase in general excise taxes.

The Legislature could not agree back in May and is slated to come back in a special session during the week of Aug. 28 through Sept. 1.

“We have secured the extra $350 million to get it to Middle Street, but now it is time to take a timeout and look at this,” Felix said in an interview last week….

The details of the Caldwell 2016 plan were to “impose greater oversight of financial operations, cost containment and risk control, and improve transparency.”

What he meant to say was, “What’s in your wallet? The real plan is to keep on taxing Oahu taxpayers.”

The bottom line is that rail has already run out of money and on the verge of running out of time….

Felix: HART Boardmember: Our Credibility has Disappeared, Nobody Knows Who is Responsible

Shapiro: Who needs a plan when the Legislature keeps writing you a blank check?

read … Time’s Up 

Telescope: Protesters will Decide whether Project is Built

SA: …There are 40 conditions, including a requirement for TMT to provide a “community benefits package” worth $1 million annually, beginning with the start of construction. There would also be a mandate for cultural and natural resources training for employees aimed at protecting the mountain, and a rule that jobs be filled locally “to the greatest extent possible.”

There would be plans for monitoring and mitigating archaeological impact, invasive species prevention, ride-sharing to minimize vehicle-generated dust and many other provisions.

Just as the science community owes respect and understanding to Native Hawaiians and their culture, the reverse is true as well. It’s unconscionable that the scientists have been demonized as they have been by the protesters. Many of them have shown little willingness to meet anyone halfway, or budge an inch.

The tragedy of the Mauna Kea debacle has been that TMT has been tarred with every grievance Native Hawaiians have held for injustices in other realms. If this worthy project is indeed shouted off the mountain, native interests — cultural advancement, education, job opportunities — will fall along with it…..

read … Ruled by Protesters

Slate: The Absurdity of Honolulu's New Law Banning Pedestrians From Looking at Their Cellphones

Slate: If the fusty sigh of “Kids these days!” were a law, it would look something like the new Honolulu ordinance making it illegal to cross the street while looking at a cellphone. The fines will start in October at $35 and increase to $75 for a second offense and $99 for a third.

The law, signed by Mayor Kirk Caldwell on Thursday, is intended to lower the city’s pedestrian-fatality rate , which is among the highest in the U.S. In practice, however, it will inject police discretion into another routine of daily life—while perpetuating the media-driven myth that pedestrians are responsible for their own deaths.

There is an epidemic of American pedestrians getting killed by drivers. But there is virtually no evidence that they are being run over because they are too busy reading Slate on their phones.

There are a few reasons why the “distracted walking” narrative has taken hold. The first comes from a 2013 Ohio State study that reported that the percentage of pedestrians visiting an emergency room for injuries sustained while using cell phones has risen, from less than 1 percent in 2004 to more than 3.5 percent in 2010. But the numbers of victims remains quite small—in the low four figures, according to Consumer Product Safety Commission data—and injuries related to cellphone use seemed to track neatly between pedestrians and drivers.

read … The Absurdity of Honolulu's New Law Banning Pedestrians From Looking at Their Cellphones

PUC approves Ridiculously Overpriced Hu Honua Biomess Project

HTH: …The PUC conducted a detailed review of the Hu Honua project’s benefits and approved the company’s original power purchase agreement with HELCO in 2013. The amended, restated agreement provides HELCO customers with the same advantages as the original PPA but at a lower cost.

The amended, restated PPA extends two contract milestones to allow Hu Honua to finish its half-completed biomass facility and reduces and restructures the contract’s pricing and term.

Because the original PPA was already approved, the commission limited its review of the amended, restated agreement….

read … Overpriced

Green Energy Schemers try to Explain Away 44% Rate Hike

SA: “PUC judicious in accepting power plan”  (Yeah.  A ‘judicious transfer of our money into their pocket.)

read … Rate Hike Coming



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