Sen. Schatz Votes to Pass Deal for Programs That Benefits Hawai‘iFebruary 14, 2019, 1:27 PM HST (Updated February 14, 2019, 1:28 PM)
Sen. Brian Schatz voted to pass a bipartisan funding deal that will increase pay for federal workers by nearly 2% and boost funding for programs that benefit Hawai‘i on Thursday, Feb. 14, 2019. In committee, Sen. Schatz successfully advanced state priorities that are now included in the final deal.
“The deal will give every federal worker a well-deserved raise and add new funding for federal programs that benefit Hawai‘i,” said Sen. Schatz. “The increased funding for infrastructure and housing means Hawai‘i can access more federal money to improve our roads and help more people find homes.”
Highlights for Hawai‘i include:
East-West Center – $16.7 million. The East-West Center directly supports the U.S. rebalance to the Asia Pacific through cooperative study, research, and dialogue with countries in the region. It is the only U.S. institution that provides a multilateral approach through research and exchange programs. Sen. Schatz worked with committee leadership to protect federal funding for the East-West Center, which President Donald Trump proposed eliminating in his budget request.
Highway and Transportation – $49.2 billion nationally, an $11.8 million increase for Hawai‘i. This estimated funding is distributed from the Highway Trust Fund to Hawai‘i for highway maintenance and new construction of bridges, roads, and bike and pedestrian paths.
Bus and Transit – $13.4 billion nationally, a $2.2 million increase for Hawai‘i from last year. This estimated funding is distributed among the state and counties for the operation and capital costs associated with operation of public transit systems, including the Maui Bus, TheBus, Kaua‘i Bus, Hele-On Bus, and TheHandi-Van fleets.
Native Hawaiian Housing – $2 million, despite President Trump’s proposed elimination. The Native Hawaiian Housing Block Grant Program provides financial assistance for Native Hawaiian families to obtain new homes, make renovations, build community facilities, and receive housing services, including counseling, financial literacy and other critical resources to address housing disparities.
Native Hawaiian-Serving Institutions (USDA) – $1.6 million. Funding will support grants to higher education institutions with a significant number of Native Hawaiian students to educate and train the next generation of farmers and ranchers.
Homelessness Assistance – $3.6 million. This funding goes to the U.S. Interagency Council on Homelessness, which works with partners in both the public and private sectors to improve federal spending outcomes for homelessness in Hawai‘i and across the country.
Airport Agricultural Inspections – $32.3 million. This program helps to fund federal agricultural inspectors at airports on Kaua‘i, Maui, O‘ahu, and Hawai‘i Island. It is critical to conduct inspections at the neighbor island airports so that passengers can directly connect to flights to the mainland without further inspections.
Native Tourism—$4.4 million. Funding includes $1 million from transportation and $3.4 million from community and economic development accounts within the Department of the Interior to implement the Schatz-led NATIVE Act, which was signed into law in September 2016. Sen. Schatz authored this law to empower native communities, including Native Hawaiians, American Indians, and Alaska Natives, to support heritage and cultural tourism.
Aircraft Hangar at Air Station Barbers Point – $5 million. Funding will be used to design and speed up construction of the Coast Guard’s new C-130J hangar at Air Station Barbers Point to better support search and rescue and other essential missions.
National Endowment for the Humanities – $2 million. Funding will be used to provide grants to preserve Native languages and culture, as well as to support other local history preservation initiatives, as directed by the NATIVE Act of 2016, authored by Sen. Schatz.
Volcano Research and Detection – $30.3 million. This funding includes $1.5 million for operations at high-threat volcanoes, over $4 million for next generation detection systems, and $4.8 million for interim office and laboratory space, equipment, and other needs due to the destruction of the Hawaiian Volcano Observatory and continuing volcanic activity at Kilauea.
Coffee Research – $1.9 million. Funding will help maintain research collection of coffee seeds and plants at the USDA Pacific Basin Agricultural Research Center in Hilo. The funding will be used to maintain seeds and plants for research and development of new strains of coffee for desirable traits like flavor or pest resistance.
Invasive Insects Research – $1 million. This funding will be used to study and combat invasive insects, including fruit flies, coffee berry borers, and felted macadamia nut coccids. The funding will support construction of an insectary at the U. S. Pacific Basin Agricultural Research Station in Hilo to learn more about insects that threaten local agriculture and develop new ways for Hawai‘i farmers to protect their crops.