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Bill Will Increase Federal Funding for Programs in Hawai‘i

May 4, 2017, 10:02 AM HST
* Updated May 4, 10:47 AM
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State Capitol, Washington D.C. Photo courtesy of PIXABAY.

On April 30, congressional appropriators released a bipartisan spending bill that will increase federal funding for the State of Hawai‘i in fiscal year 2017. The deal includes increased funding for programs involving Native Hawaiian health, education and housing.

U.S. Sen. Brian Schatz (D-Hawai‘i), a member of the Senate Appropriations Committee, played a primary role in advancing the appropriations.

“Despite the proposed cuts and threats of a government shutdown from the administration, Congress was able to come together and agree on a budget that reflects our priorities as a country,” Sen. Schatz said.

According to Schatz, the deal will increase federal funds for the Coast Guard and programs that benefit medical research, clean energy and science. It also fully funds the East-West Center and restores funding for Pell Grants. It will not fund President Trump’s promised border wall or eliminate funding for Planned Parenthood.

“From Native Hawaiian programs to our military, this appropriations bill funds all our key priority areas,” Sen. Schatz said. “Our entire local economy depends on these resources so this will be a relief for many residents.”

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The highlights of the bill benefitting Hawai‘i include:

  • $16.7 million for the East-West Center: The East-West Center facilitates cooperative study, research and dialogue between the U.S. and countries in the Asia Pacific Region.
  • $2 million for Native Hawaiian housing: The Native Hawaiian Housing Block Grant Program provides financial assistance for new homes, renovations, community facilities and housing services like counseling, financial literacy and other resources to address housing disparities.
  • $14.4 million for Native Hawaiian Health Care: This funding–an increase of nearly one million dollars over last year–will support five Native Hawaiian Health Centers run on Hawai‘i Island, Kauai, Moloka‘i, Maui and ‘Oahu.
  • $47.2 million for Native Hawaiian Education: $33.4 million has been appropriated for Native Hawaiian elementary and secondary education programs provided under the Native Hawaiian Education Act; $13.8 million for higher education programs established under Alaska Native and Native Hawaiian-Serving Institutions, and the Alaska Native-Serving and the Native Hawaiian-Serving Institutions Education Competitive Grants Program.  
  • $55 million for Clean Energy Research for the Military: This funding supports a number of programs nationwide, including the Air Force’s ongoing microgrid testbed at Joint Base Pearl Harbor-Hickam that will help ensure that the Air National Guard has sufficient energy resources to execute its missions. The funding will also provide a proof of concept that alternative energy and microgrid technologies can support the Air Force’s broader energy security goals.
  • $222 million for Environmental Restoration on Formerly Used Defense Sites: These funds will support the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers’ continued efforts to identify and remove unexploded ordnance at former military sites across the neighbor islands and ensure that military training and activities remain in balance with Hawai‘i’s local needs.
  • $222 million for High Performance Computing Modernization Program. Funding supports Department of Defense’s regional supercomputing centers, including the Maui High Performance Computing Center (MHPCC).
  • $12.3 million for Barking Sands Tactical Underwater Range – This additional $9 million of funding for the underwater range off Kauai will support Navy training operations in the Pacific including tactics, training, procedures, new technologies and anti-submarine warfare capabilities.
  • $11.7 million for Maui Space Surveillance System: This Department of Defense program is designed to help track, identify and characterize space objects of interest, including the Dynamic Optical Telescope System.
  • $6 million for the Tsunami Hazard Mitigation Program: This program benefitting coastal states supports preparations like inundation mapping, disaster planning and tsunami education.
  • $12.2 million for Land Acquisition: These funds will support the continued protection of Hawai‘i’s fragile ecosystems including Hakalau Forest National Wildlife Refuge and Hawai‘i Volcanoes National Park.
  • $8.2 million for Endangered Hawaiian Monk Seals and Sea Turtles Protection: Hawaiian monk seals are extremely endangered. These funds will support monk seal conservation and population recovery. It also supports sea turtle conservation efforts as well as recovery plans as outlined in the Endangered Species Act.
  • $26.1 million for Coral Reef Conservation Program: This funding will support the NOAA’s Coral Reef Conservation Program which protects coral reef ecosystems in Hawai‘i and nationwide.

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