HONOLULU - Just days before a special session, Hawaii lawmakers announced late Thursday they've come up with a measure that could fund Honolulu's mass transit rail project.

Among proposals on the table to generate a budget shortfall of about $2.4 billion for the project is either extending the general excise tax or increasing the hotel room tax.

The bill is a compromise measure that taps into two different funding sources.

One of several lawmakers Island News talked with, feel it will be popular enough to pass next week's special session.

Under the bill, the existing general excise tax rail surcharge on Oahu would be in place for three additional years on top of the ten already set by lawmakers, and would go through until 2030.

Lawmakers are talking about boosting the transient accommodation tax or hotel room tax by one percent for 13 years.

The current room tax for a room that costs $250 a night is a little more than $23. If the room tax goes up by a percentage point, the price per room will jump about $2.50.

Tourism advocates are against the increase, claiming visitors may think twice before traveling to Hawaii. After all, Hawaii's room tax is already one of the highest in the country.

But Island News spoke to visitors who said the increase wouldn't stop them from coming here.

"You can't get this experience anywhere else, so you kind of just expect to pay the money for this beautiful place," Sarah Sparkmon, a tourist said.

The proposed TAT would generate about $1.5 billion for Honolulu's rail project.

"In spite the way we adjourned, we immediately said we need to work together and come up with a solution and I'm optimistic by calling our members back in, this is something that we can get the majority of support for," Ron Kouchi, the Senate President said. 

While lawmakers may be in favor of the proposed bill, the mayor sent out a letter Thursday saying it won't be enough. Mayor Kirk Caldwell feels it will miss the mark by between $600-900 million.

He worries Oahu residents and taxpayers will have to make up the shortfall.

Along with the dollars in the deal, the proposed bill would also require a state audit of the Honolulu Authority for Rapid Transportation and it would allow the senate and the house to each appoint two non-voting members to HART's board.

Story by Paul Drewes and Moanike'ala Nabarro