While government funding is certainly always subject to review, question and criticism, and often seems to be wasteful and free-spending, we have to applaud the latest appropriations deal that includes money for Native Hawaiian health, education, and housing. All are key to the future of pretty much everyone in Hawaii.
U.S. Sen. Brian Schatz, D-Hawaii, a member of the Senate Appropriations Committee, advanced Hawaii’s priorities during committee consideration.
“Our entire local economy depends on these resources so this will be a relief for many residents,” he said.
Here are some of the highlights of the deal that will benefit Hawaii and are worth the continued investments:
w 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.
w 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.
w Native Hawaiian Health Care – $14.4 million. Native Hawaiian Health Centers, run through the Native Hawaiian Health Care Systems 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 Kauai, Hawaii Island, Molokai, Maui, and Oahu.
w 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.
w 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.
w 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.
w 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.
w 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 Hawaii 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.
Our government’s ballooning budget is usually good cause to cringe. But the funds appropritate in many areas that impacted Hawaii are an investment that will protect the present and future of the Aloha State.