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A Partly Published Letter

THE HONOLULU ADVERTISER
July 8, 1992

To the Editor:

Your June 19 article tells us that once again a city-paid consultant has found that the city's rapid transit proposal would be good for the city. This is the same consultant, by the way, who devised the financial plan to raise $1,700,000,000 -- 70% of the total construction cost -by levying a 1/2% excise tax surcharge.

It doesn't take hiring well-paid economic consultants to tell us that pumping $2.3 billion into a small island's economy will create jobs and profitable business activity. So would spending money building and repairing schools, constructing thousands of affordable homes, improving water and sewage facilities, and repairing our crumbling infrastructure. Building a few over-passes at crowded intersections, some contra-flow lanes on the Pali and other highways, blocking off exclusive dedicated HOV and bus lanes in selected locations -- all these give employment and would do more to relieve traffic than rail, and would do it sooner.

Once again we are asked to believe that building rail will cost families with incomes between $30,00 and $50,000 only $21 per year per person with only $11 for those with $10,00 to 30,000. The Federal government ought to hire these magicians to solve our fiscal crisis there.

Four things are missing from these allegations:

  1. They have deducted the State income tax credit. But the State gets its money from the taxes we all pay. The credit merely takes the money out of one pocket and puts it into the other.

  2. They have not included the higher costs we will all be paying to reimburse manufacturers, processors, and wholesalers who also will have to pay the surcharge. Tax Foundation studies show that at lower income levels this more than doubles the impact of the surcharge.

  3. Not only taxes but "user fees" will have to be raised. A responsible city official has publicly stated that the transit fare, whether for a bus or rail ride, will have to be as high as $1.50.

  4. None of these figures include operating, maintenance, and replacement costs of the system, which the City admits will increase the City's General Fund locally funded operating deficit by 64% (in constant dollars) by 1998.

Considering what national voodoo economics did to our country, let us not go down the same fiscal drain on Oahu.

Astrid Monson
Chair, Rail Transit Study Committee

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