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Funding for Critical Programs That Benefit Hawai‘i to Rise in Appropriations Deal

Deal Includes Increased Funding for Native Hawaiian Health, Education, and Housing Programs

WASHINGTON – Last night, congressional appropriators released a bipartisan spending deal that will increase federal funding for critical programs that benefit Hawai‘i for fiscal year 2017.  U.S. Senator Brian Schatz (D-Hawai‘i), a member of the Senate Appropriations Committee, successfully advanced Hawai‘i’s priorities during committee consideration, which are now reflected in the final deal.

“Despite the proposed cuts and threats of a government shutdown from the administration, Congress was able to come together and agree on a spending bill that reflects our priorities as a country. It will protect federal funding for Hawai‘i and increase federal spending for the Coast Guard and programs that support medical research, clean energy, and science,”
said Senator Schatz, a member of the Senate Appropriations Committee. “From Native Hawaiian programs to our military, this appropriations bill funds all our key priority areas. Our entire local economy depends on these resources so this will be a relief for many residents.”

The deal reached by congressional leaders will fully fund the East-West Center and increase funding for Native Hawaiian health and housing programs. The bill also restores funding for Pell Grants, increases funding to support the Coast Guard, and adds billions in funding for various programs that support clean energy, transit, science, and medical research. But it will not fund President Donald Trump's promised border wall or eliminate funding for Planned Parenthood.

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 to learning through research and exchange programs.  Senator Schatz secured an increase of $5.9 million above the president's budget request.

Native Hawaiian Housing$2 million.  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. Congressional Republicans blocked funding for fiscal year 2016.  This year, President Obama requested $500,000 for the program and Senator Schatz worked to secure additional funding for the program through the appropriations process. 

Native Hawaiian Health Care$14.4 million. Many Native Hawaiian families face geographical, cultural, and financial barriers that make it difficult for them to access existing health services.  Native Hawaiian Health Centers, run through the Native Hawaiian Health Care Systems (NHHCS) program, provide critical access to health education, promotion, disease prevention, and basic primary care services for thousands of Native Hawaiians enrolled in the NHHCS programs.  This funding will support five health centers on Hawai‘i Island, Kauai, Molokai, Maui, and Oahu. This is a nearly one million dollar increase from last year.

Native Hawaiian Education—$47.2 million. Funding includes $33.4 million for Native Hawaiian elementary and secondary education programs provided under the Native Hawaiian Education Act; and $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.  Native Hawaiian education programs help strengthen Native Hawaiian culture, increase community cohesion, sustain and advance Native Hawaiian language learning and literacy, improve levels of educational attainment, and enhance family and community involvement in education.

Clean Energy Research for the Military – $55 million.  Hawai‘i continues to lead in clean energy technology and implementation, which will pay dividends to our state, our economy, and our national security.  This funding supports a number of programs nationwide, such as the Air Force’s ongoing microgrid testbed at Joint Base Pearl Harbor-Hickam that will help ensure that the Air National Guard has access to the energy it needs to execute its defense and homeland security missions, while providing a proof of concept that alternative energy and microgrid technologies can support the Air Force's broader energy security goals.  Senator Schatz worked to secure $55 million in funding for military alternative energy, which was not part of the president’s budget.

Environmental Restoration on Formerly Used Defense Sites – $222 million.  Funding supports 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.  Senator Schatz worked to secure an additional $25 million above the president’s budget.

High Performance Computing Modernization Program—$222 million.  Funding supports DoD’s regional supercomputing centers, including the Maui High Performance Computing Center (MHPCC).  Working with Committee leaders, Senator Schatz was able to increase funding for the program by $45 million above the President’s budget to ensure that DoD has the funding it needs to upgrade the technology at MHPCC so that it can continue to support the military’s current and future high performance computing needs in Hawai‘i and the Pacific.

Barking Sands Tactical Underwater Range – $12.3 million.  The additional $9 million of funding for the underwater range off Kauai will help ensure that the Navy will continue to have a superior training range in the Pacific to assess tactics, training, procedures, new technology, and anti-submarine warfare capabilities that are critical to staying ahead of near-peer competitors in the Asia Pacific.

Maui Space Surveillance System – $11.7 million.  Funding to support DoD programs that help track, identify, and characterize space objects of interest, including the Dynamic Optical Telescope System.

Tsunami Hazard Mitigation Program – $6 million. The National Tsunami Hazard Mitigation Program provides funding to coastal states for preparedness activities such as inundation mapping, disaster planning, and tsunami education.  Using these funds, Hawai‘i was one of the first states in the nation to be declared Tsunami Ready.

Land Acquisition – $12.2 million. 
Funding supports continued protection for some of our most important and fragile ecosystems. The bill includes $6.2 million for Hakalau Forest National Wildlife Refuge and $6 million for Hawai‘i Volcanoes National Park, which will allow those federally protected areas to expand and thrive.

Endangered Hawaiian Monk Seals and Sea Turtles Protection – $8.2 million.  Hawaiian monk seals are the only seal species in the world that live in only one nation's territorial waters--and as an extremely endangered species, that means we have a responsibility to help them toward recovery. This funding will continue to support monk seal conservation and recovery. Funding will also support sea turtle conservation activities such as interagency consultation and technical assistance on marine turtle by-catch reduction strategies; cooperative conservation actions in the greater Pacific region; marine turtle stock assessments and scientific research projects; and related activities must be continued to make further progress in implementing recovery actions identified in recovery plans for Endangered Species Act protected marine turtle species.

Coral Reef Conservation Program – $26.1 million. Funding supports NOAA’s Coral Reef Conservation Program which addresses the top threats to coral reef ecosystems in Hawai‘i and across the country. Working with partners, NOAA develops place-based strategies, measure the effectiveness of management efforts, and build capacity among reef managers globally.