Message to Supporters, September 2, 2016
In the last 24 hours, my position on rail has been misrepresented and taken out of context.
This is the truth:
The mayor has grossly mismanaged this rail system. His trip to San Francisco on Monday was a complete failure. As a result of the mayor's meetings, the Federal government now says that it will not allow us to consider any alternatives, and will require us to repay all federal funds if we don't complete the project as planned.
This is a game changer. In my opinion, we no longer have options. We can't tear the system down. The City does not have the money to repay the Federal government up to the $1.55 billion awarded for the rail project. Our community cannot afford an estimated 70-80% increase in real property taxes that we would need to pay back the Federal government for funds already used. We have no alternative except to complete the project as planned from Kapolei to Ala Moana.
While we need to finish the project, we must control the cost.
As I've said before, I will veto any tax increase for the rail project above the $7 billion currently allocated for the project. The people should not have to bear the burden of Caldwell's mismanagement of the rail project.
My plan to cover the shortfall is to:
- Reduce waste by calling for a financial audit
- Stop the mismanagement of the rail project by building the project based on engineering rather than politics. No more rushing contracts to fit an election timeline or purchasing rail cars years before they are needed or hiring dozens of six-figure salary mainland consultants who know little about Hawaii construction conditions.
- Fight to end the unfair 10% skim of rail funds. 10% of all funds collected for the rail project are kept by the State government and used for other purposes.
- Utilize my connections as a former congressman to expand federal support for the project.
- Force developers to pay for the benefit they get by being located near the rail project. Caldwell has no incentive to hold the developers that gave him large campaign donations accountable.
- Work cooperatively and collaboratively with the City Council. Having been a councilmember for 7 years, I know how to work with the Council and have been endorsed by Council Budget Chair Ann Kobayashi.
The incumbent mayor's "plan" to do nothing and just stay the course of endless cost overruns and non-stop delays doesn't make sense. Instead, we deserve a mayor who will actively work to eliminate rail mismanagement.
Now, the crucial decision is who do you trust to do that and get our City out of the hole we are in? Kirk Caldwell who got us here -- with massive cost overruns, mismanagement, and waste? Do you trust the incumbent mayor who has taken nearly $1 million in campaign contributions from rail interests to now suddenly get tough with those same rail interests and control costs?
In contrast, I have always been honest with the people. I've built my career on fiscal responsibility and government accountability.
In serving the people in the State House, City Council and in Congress, I have never voted for a tax increase. This is in contrast to the mayor who says he would immediately seek to raise the excise tax.
Unlike the mayor who got us into this mess, I'm willing to take responsibility to get us out.
If you have any questions about my position on rail or anything else, please call or email me.