Leaders of the Hawaii Legislature have named the state budget director and three other people to help oversee Honolulu’s beleaguered rail project.

Senate President Ron Kouchi chose current state Budget Director Wesley Machida and former Budget Director Kalbert Young to serve on the Honolulu Authority for Rapid Transportation board.

Young served under former Gov. Neil Abercrombie and is now chief financial affairs officer at the University of Hawaii.

HART Rail guideway along Kamehameha Hwy near the Aloha Stadium looking towards Aiea Heights.
Honolulu’s rail guideway is under construction. Here’s what it looked like in September along Kamehameha Highway near Aloha Stadium. Cory Lum/Civil Beat

House Speaker Scott Saiki’s appointees hail from the private sector and financial services industry. Kamani Kuala‘au is a senior vice president at Atalanta Sosnoff Capital, an asset management firm. Tobias “Toby” Martyn is vice president at Stifel, a brokerage and investment banking firm. He used to be a senior vice president at Bank of Hawaii.

The members won’t have voting power, but are supposed to provide more accountability for a project that’s years behind schedule and billions of dollars over budget.

The Legislature recently approved a $2.4 billion funding bill to bail out the project. Adding non-voting board members appointed by state lawmakers was one of several provisions in the legislation intended to improve the project’s fiscal management.

The measure establishes a mass transit special fund that’s intended to improve transparency over how money is spent. The state comptroller is supposed to review the rail agency’s costs before state funds are released.

Lawmakers are also requiring a sweeping audit of the project and annual fiscal reviews of the rail agency.

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