Is Honolulu Rail Debt Causing Budget Cuts?

Michael Levine/Civil Beat

Rail debt is going up, and spending on other capital projects is coming down.

Case closed?

To hear Ben Cayetano and his "truth squad" tell it, yes.

Cayetano, the former state governor now running for mayor, called a press conference Tuesday afternoon where former city government leaders made the case that ballooning debt to construct the controversial $5.2 billion rail transit system is handcuffing Honolulu Hale. They said rail has made Mayor Peter Carlisle gun shy about incurring additional debt for other projects like police equipment, flood control improvements and road repairs.

"As more of the city's financial resources are diverted to rail, the city is forced to change its spending priorities," former Honolulu Finance Director Toy Arre, who served under Mayor Frank Fasi, announced to reporters. "In the proposed Fiscal 2013 budget alone, approximately $17 million in public health and safety projects are on the chopping block. More cuts are slated in forthcoming years."

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