East Hawaii News

Obama Budget Includes Hawaii Projects — and Fee Hike

March 5, 2014, 10:50 AM HST
* Updated March 5, 10:51 AM
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Congresswoman Tulsi Gabbard this week highlighted some of the Hawaii items in President Obama’s 2015 budget request.

The $3.9 trillion budget adheres to the 2015 spending levels agreed to by Congress in the Bipartisan Budget Act approved in December.

The biggest-ticket item was $250 million for Honolulu’s rail project, followed by $164 million for construction at Oahu military installations at Fort Shafter, Kaneohe Bay, Pearl Harbor Naval Shipyard and Joint Base Pearl Harbor-Hickam.

Other Hawaii-related initiatives include $32 million for Native Hawaiian education, $27 million for Alaska Native and Native-Hawaiian-serving institutions and $13 million for the Native Hawaiian Housing Block Grant Program.

Gabbard said Obama’s budget, which must be approved by Congress, would repeal tax breaks to oil and gas companies and earmark some of the billions of dollars in savings for research on alternative energy.

It would also address economic inequality, which according to the New York Time he described as “the defining challenge of our time.”

Obama said Obama is proposing to expand a longstanding tax breaks for low-income workers with children to those who are childless, benefitting an estimated 13.5 million Americans.

The cost of the tax breaks, $60 billion over 10 years, would be offset by closing two tax breaks for some wealthy taxpayers, which has also been proposed by a Republican leader in the House as part of tax code changes, the Time said.

“One of the greatest challenges we face today is the huge gap that exists between the wealthy, and those who struggle daily just to feed their families and raise their keiki,” Gabbard said in a statement.

“I strongly support the president’s proposal to close tax loopholes that cater to top earners and special interests, and welcome efforts to support job creation and opportunities for working- and middle-class families across our islands.”

Gabbard said the budget also includes yet another hike in the Aviation Passenger Security Fee, from $5.60 per trip – raised from $2.50 during December’s budget negotiations – to $6.

Gabbard and the rest of Hawaii’s congressional delegation continue to seek an exemption for residents in Hawaii and Alaska from the increases which they say affects residents of those states disproportionately.

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