- Associated Press - Friday, April 28, 2017

HONOLULU (AP) - Hawaii lawmakers are proposing a steep increase in hotel taxes to pay for Honolulu’s financially troubled rail transit project.

Leaders in the House and Senate agreed to the last-minute proposal before a legislative deadline Friday.

The bill would raise the transient accommodation tax paid by visitors from 9.25 percent to 12 percent for 10 years.

Lawmakers expect the proposed hotel tax increase to raise $1.3 billion by 2027.

In a statement, Hawaii Tourism Authority President and CEO George Szigeti stressed the “need to be careful about increasing the cost for visitors to vacation in Hawaii and not price ourselves out of the global marketplace.”

Cost estimates for the rail project went from about $5 billion in 2014 to nearly $10 billion.

The bill goes next to the full House and Senate where it’s expected to win approval next week.

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