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Sens. Schatz, Hirono announce nearly $1B in federal funding for Hawaii projects

Hawaii U.S. Sens. Brian Schatz and Mazie Hirono on Thursday announced that they had collectively secured nearly $1 billion in federal funding for a wide range of Hawaii projects.

Schatz said the more than $500 million he secured in so-called earmarks will increase federal funding to shut down Red Hill and “strengthen housing,” health care and education, among other programs and projects.

Hirono separately announced that she had secured nearly $450 million in earmarks for nonprofits and government programs in every county including for military construction, community health organizations and projects to support Native Hawaiian communities.

The funds for Hawaii are part of the massive $1.7 trillion bill to fund the government through most of 2023 and avert a government shutdown. The spending plan heads to the House today — where it is expected to pass while the House is still under control of Democrats by tonight’s deadline, and then be signed into law by President Joe Biden.

The spending plan passed the Senate by a bipartisan vote of 68-29 and includes increases in domestic and defense spending, and helps bankroll Biden’s economic agenda and emergency aid to Ukraine.

Looking at senators’ earmarks in the spending bill, The Associated Press on Thursday called Schatz “likely the real power behind Hawaii’s appropriations muscle.”

Schatz’s reputation follows in the legacy of the legendary U.S. Sen. Daniel Inouye, who died 10 years ago, after Inouye earned a national reputation as the unapologetic “king” of pork barrel spending for delivering billions of dollars in federal funds to his beloved, isolated island state.

Schatz — a senior member of the Senate Appropriations Committee and chair of the Senate Appropriations Subcommittee on Transportation, Housing and Urban Development — said in a statement Thursday:

“We continue to see big increases in federal funding for Hawai‘i. This appropriations bill will give our state funding to grow our local economy, improve roads and public transit, protect our environment, and strengthen housing, education, and health care programs.”

Hirono said in a statement, “This funding bill invests in our communities, our country, and our national defense. I’m proud to have secured nearly $450 million in federal funding for projects across Hawaii as part of this bill. From protecting our environment, to strengthening our state’s emergency management capabilities, to supporting community health organizations and more, these projects will benefit people and communities across our state. I look forward to seeing this bill signed into law and these funds put to good use for the people of Hawaii.”

The spending bill includes funding for a wide array of nationwide programs that also will benefit Hawaii.

But funding specific to the islands includes:

>> $111 million for construction at Schofield Barracks and another $103.3 million for construction at Joint Base Pearl Harbor-Hickam; $87.9 million for enlisted housing at Marine Corps Base Hawaii; $38 million for Tripler Army Medical Center for anti-terrorism protection measures to enhance potable water system resiliency and security; $33 million for potable water wells and above-ground storage at Fort Shafter; and $20 million for Joint Base Pearl Harbor-Hickam for a permanent facility for dry-dock work.

>> $46 million for Native Hawaiian education — a $7 million increase from 2021 — to support programs that strengthen Native Hawaiian culture and education, and construction, renovation and modernization of public schools that predominantly serve Native Hawaiian students.

>> $30.5 million in new funding to rebuild fences to protect park resources at Haleakala National Park, Hawai‘i Volcanoes National Park and Kalaupapa National Historical Park.

>> $27 million — a $5 million increase — to provide access to health education and promotion, disease prevention and basic primary care services for Native Hawaiians. The funding will support five health centers on Hawaii island, Kauai, Molokai, Maui and Oahu as well as Papa Ola Lokahi.

>> $25 million in new funding for the Red Hill Water Treatment Facility for the Navy to explore the possibility of a potential water treatment and distribution facility, if necessary, for the Red Hill shaft.

>> $22.3 million for Native Hawaiian housing that will provide financial assistance for Native Hawaiian families to obtain new homes, make renovations, build community facilities and receive housing serv­ices, including counseling and financial literacy to address housing disparities.

>> $22 million, a $2.3 million increase, for the East-West Center to continue and expand its education, professional development, research, policy dialogue, journalism and cultural programs throughout the Indo-Pacific.

>> $15 million, a $5 million increase, to help remote and island communities address energy costs.

>> $14 million, a $2 million increase, for farm- to-school programs to increase access to fresh, nutritious and locally produced food in schools and support the state Department of Education’s goal to purchase 30% locally produced food by 2030.

>> $13 million for community services at Hilo Memorial Hospital.

>> $12.9 million in new funding to support projects at Haleakala National Park.

>> $12 million, a $750,000 increase, to support conservation and recovery of monk seals, sea turtle conservation and investigations into interactions between fisheries and false killer whales.

>> $6.5 million for construction at the University of Hawaii’s Cancer Center.

>> $6.1 million, a $481,000 increase, for the state Department of Health to respond to public health threats.

>> $5 million for infrastructure housing development in Hanapepe, Eleele and Port Allen on Kauai.

>> $4.7 million, a $1 million increase, to prevent further bird extinction in Hawaii.

>> $3.6 million, a $432,000 increase, for DOH to purchase vaccines for children, adolescents and adults.

>> $3.5 million for affordable housing on Oahu for people with mental illness.

>> $3 million to build the first community-led energy project on Molokai.

>> $2 million for the care and treatment of patients with Hansen’s disease.