Maui Business

Funding Deal Includes Millions In Federal Funding For Hawai‘i

December 22, 2020, 5:12 AM HST
* Updated December 23, 8:44 AM
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Bill Includes Millions In New And Increased Funding For Housing, Infrastructure, Health Care, And Education; Separate COVID-19 Relief Package Included In Appropriations Bill

PC: courtesy office of US Sen. Brian Schatz.

The US Senate last night voted to pass a bipartisan spending deal that will increase federal funding for critical programs that benefit Hawai‘i for fiscal year 2021.

US Senator Brian Schatz (D-Hawai‘i), who serves as a member of the Senate Appropriations Committee, reports that he successfully advanced state priorities, which are now included in the final deal.

A separate COVID-19 relief package was attached to the annual appropriations bill and both were approved by Congress on Monday.

“This appropriations bill will give our state millions in much-needed federal funding to help us rebuild our economy, create new jobs, and help people access critical programs during this difficult time,” said Sen. Schatz. “It’s been a tough year for our state so this increase in federal dollars this year is welcome news.”

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The annual government bill includes funding for housing, roads, public transit, and infrastructure, as well as Native Hawaiian health and education programs.

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The funding as outlined by Sen. Schatz includes the following:

NEW AND INCREASED FUNDING FOR HAWAI‘I

Affordable Housing – $43.1 billion (nationwide), a $2.6 billion increase from last year. This funding supports Public Housing programs, Section 8 vouchers, the HOME Investment Partnership program and the Housing Trust Fund, which provides resources to help communities build and maintain affordable housing. It also supports the Community Development Block Grant Program and Emergency Solutions grant programs.

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Native Hawaiian Health Care – $20.5 million, a $1.5 million increase from last year. Native Hawaiian Health Care Systems, as part of the Native Hawaiian Health Care Program, provide critical access to health education, promotion, disease prevention, and basic primary care services for thousands of Native Hawaiians. This funding will support five health centers on Hawai‘i Island, Kauai, Molokai, Maui, and Oahu.

Pearl Harbor National Memorial – $6 million, new funding. The majority of these funds, $5,647,000, are a one-time appropriation to replace the existing shore-side floating dock, which is used to provide visitor transport to and from the USS Arizona Memorial. The additional $435,000 in operational funds will be used at the Memorial to improve visitor services and security.

Veterans Affairs – $104.4 billion (nationwide), a $12.5 billion increase from last year. Funding will be used to:

·       Ensure robust in-house medical care so that the VA Pacific Island Health Care System can continue to provide high-quality care to all veterans in Hawai‘i; 

·       Increase pandemic-related assistance to state veterans homes to protect veterans and health care workers;

·       Address ongoing non-recurring maintenance challenges at VA facilities, including aged electrical systems and leaking roofs;

·       Strengthen medical research into new therapeutic approaches for service-connected injuries so that veterans can live full and productive lives;

·       Further expand VA telehealth services for veterans in rural and remote areas that have been essential during the public health emergency;

·       Continue to provide support for caregivers of severely injured veterans as the VA expands the program to veterans of all eras;

·       Support VA’s ability to process benefits claims and provide care to Blue Water Navy veterans; and

·       Enhance support to homeless veterans, particularly homeless women veterans and homeless veterans in rural communities.

East-West Center – $19.7 million, a $3 million increase from last year and despite President Trump’s proposed elimination. Senator Schatz worked with his colleagues to increase support to the East-West Center, which directly supports U.S. engagement in the Indo Pacific through cooperative study, research, and dialogue with countries in the region. It is the only U.S. institution that provides a multilateral approach through research and exchange programs.

Papahanaumokuakea Marine National Monument – $1.2 million, a $200,000 increase from last year. The spending deal authorizes NOAA to award a competitive grant of up to $1 million for research and management activities in Papahanaumokuakea. The funding is subject to a 100 percent non-federal match and will bring new resources to keep our Hawaiian archipelago healthy and productive. Past uses of the funding have included research to understand the impact of climate change on the ecosystem, and the removal of marine debris.

Red Hill Fuel Storage Protections and Improvements – $5 million, new funding. This new funding supports a collaboration between the University of Hawai‘i and the Navy to improve the clean, inspect, and repair process for the fuel tanks at Red Hill. This collaboration will help keep the drinking water safe while the Navy continues to work to implement a double-wall equivalency solution for the fuel tanks or move the fuel tanks off the aquifer if it cannot provide secondary containment for them.

Native Hawaiian and Alaska Native-Serving Institutions – $19 million (nationwide), a $724,000 increase from last year despite President Trump’s proposed elimination. This program provides funding and vital support to Hawai‘i’s colleges and universities, enabling them to improve and expand their capacity to serve Native Hawaiian students.

Asian American and Native American Pacific Islander-Serving Institutions – $5.1 million (nationwide), a $676,000 increase from last year despite President Trump’s proposed elimination. This program provides funding and vital support to Hawai‘i’s colleges and universities, enabling them to improve and expand their capacity to serve Asian American and Pacific Islander students.

National Estuarine Research Reserve, including Heeia – $28.5 million (nationwide), a $1 million increase from last year. Funding will be shared among system sites, including the Heeia National Estuarine Research Reserve. This site demonstrates the value of Native Hawaiian taro cultivation and fishpond aquaculture to maintain a healthy ecosystem. It is viewed by NOAA to be a model site because of its seamless integration of science and culture.

Impact Aid Program – $50.2 million, a $700,000 increase from last year. The estimated Impact Aid funding will provide the Hawai‘i Department of Education with the resources to help finance the education of federally-connected children. Impact Aid funds a range of programs, including efforts to retain highly qualified teachers, adequate technology, facilities renovation, and maintenance of transportation fleets.

Coral Reef Conservation – $33 million (nationwide), a $3.5 million increase from last year. This 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, measures the effectiveness of management efforts, and builds capacity among reef managers globally.

Military and National Security Construction Projects – $363 million.

·       $89 million for an aircraft maintenance hangar at Wheeler Army Airfield;

·       $115 million for two waterfront projects to improve the wharves at Joint Base Pearl Harbor-Hickam;

·       $114 million for two child development centers at Schofield Barracks and Aliamanu Military Reservation included from the Army’s unfunded requirements list to support military families in Hawai‘i; and 

·       $45 million for Coast Guard Air Station Barbers Point to address an unfunded requirement to construct a new hangar for C-130Js that will support homeland defense missions in Hawai‘i and the Pacific. 

Clean Energy Research for the Military – $25 million, a $5 million increase from last year. 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 the Navy’s alternative energy research programs, including those in Hawai‘i that are working to make the Navy and its installations more resilient and less reliant on fossil fuels. Senator Schatz worked to secure $25 million in funding for the Navy’s alternative energy research and development, which was not part of the president’s budget.

National Oceans and Coastal Security Fund – $34 million (nationwide), a $1 million increase from last year. The program funds projects that help coastal communities and ecosystems prepare for extreme weather events, climate hazards, and changing ocean conditions. In Hawai‘i, it has funded projects to improve high wave and king tide forecasts, to plan and prepare better for extreme coastal weather, and to restore native Hawaiian fishponds.

Endangered Hawaiian Monk Seals and Sea Turtles Protection – $9.6 million, a $300,000 increase from last year. Hawaiian monk seals are the only seal species in the world that live in only one nation’s territorial waters. Because these seals are an extremely endangered species, we have a responsibility to help them toward recovery. This funding will continue to support monk seal conservation and recovery, with research on vaccination and disease prevention (morbillivirus and toxoplasmosis). Funding will also support sea turtle conservation activities such as continued monitoring of endangered turtle populations and the impacts of habitat loss at French Frigate Shoals from Hurricane Walaka (2018).

Airport Agricultural Inspections – $32.9 million (nationwide), an increase of $600,000 from last year. In Hawai‘i, this program helps to fund federal agricultural inspectors at airports on Kauai, Maui, Oahu, and Hawai‘i Island. It is critical to conduct inspections at the neighbor island airports so that passengers can directly connect to flights to the mainland.

Kalaupapa National Historical Park – $16 million, new funding. Additional NPS funds are also provided to rehabilitate the unsafe and failing electrical system at the settlement. 

Hakalau Forest National Wildlife Refuge, Na Wai Eha Forest Watershed, and Hawai‘i Koa Forest – $10 million, new funding. This year the Land and Water Conservation Fund was fully and permanently funded at $900 million annually. Within this allocation, three land acquisition projects in Hawai‘i will receive funding: Hakalau Forest National Wildlife Refuge, Na Wai Eha Forest Watershed, and Hawai‘i Koa Forest.

False Killer Whales – $1 million, new funding. False killer whales are social animals found globally in all tropical and subtropical oceans and generally in deep offshore waters. Current population assessments indicate that the false killer populations are very small, and this funding will help minimize harmful interactions with Hawai‘i’s longline fisheries. The funding will also support routine population assessments of false killer whales, the development of new monitoring technology, and studies to mitigate harm when the whales interact with fishing gear.

Tsunami Program – $28 million (nationwide), a $500,000 increase from last year. The NOAA Tsunami Program provides funding to coastal states for preparedness activities such as inundation mapping, disaster planning, and tsunami education. Funding includes support for tsunami monitoring, forecasts, and a grant program, which states can compete for, to prepare inundation maps and assist with outreach and education. Hawai‘i relies on all three components of the program. Despite deep cuts proposed by President Trump, Senator Schatz helped increase funding for this critical program.

PROTECTED FUNDING

Bus and Transit – $13 billion (nationwide). This funding is distributed among the stated and counties for the operation and capital costs associated with the operation of public transit systems, including the Maui Bus, TheBus, Kauai Bus, Hele-On Bus, and TheHandi-Van fleets.

Highway and Transportation – $49.1 billion (nationwide). This funding is distributed from the Highway Trust Fund to states for highway maintenance and new construction of bridges, roads, and bike and pedestrian paths.

Native Hawaiian Housing – $2 million, despite President Trump’s proposed elimination. 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.

Native Hawaiian Education – $37.4 million, despite President Trump’s proposed elimination. This funding supports programs that strengthen Native Hawaiian culture, improve levels of educational attainment, and enhance family and community involvement in education. President Trump proposed eliminating funding for Native Hawaiian education programs in his budget. Senator Schatz included a provision to allow funds to be used for construction, renovation, and modernization of public schools that predominantly serve Native Hawaiian students. Senator Schatz also included a provision fixing the restriction on use of funds for indirect administrative costs.

Native American Language Preservation – $13 million (nationwide). This funding includes $12.5 million for Native American language preservation activities under the Administration for Native Americans, with priority funding for Native American language immersion schools as authorized under the Every Student Succeeds Act.

Native American Language Immersion Schools and Program – $2 million (nationwide). Senator Schatz co-authored the legislation to create new grants for Native American immersion schools and programs.

Homeland Defense Radar-Hawai‘i – $133 million, despite President Trump’s proposed elimination. This funding will allow the Missile Defense Agency (MDA) to continue to develop a homeland defense radar to be sited in Hawai‘i following the outcome of the environmental impact review. When completed, the Homeland Defense Radar-Hawai‘i will optimize MDA’s ability to detect, track, discriminate, and intercept missile threats, making it increasingly difficult for North Korea and other states to credibly threaten Hawai‘i and the U.S. mainland.

Compact of Free Association Impact – $4 million (nationwide). The United States has entered into the Compact of Free Association (COFA) with the governments of the Freely Associated States (FAS), which are the Federated States of Micronesia, the Republic of the Marshall Islands, and the Republic of Palau. These Compacts allow FAS citizens to live in the United States and receive certain benefits. This funding will help Hawai‘i provide those benefits to FAS citizens who live and work in the state.

Japanese American Confinement Sites, including Honouliuli – $3.2 million (nationwide), despite President Trump’s proposed elimination. Funding will support Japanese American Confinement Sites (JACS) grants. JACS grants support the preservation of Japanese American internment camps, including the Honouliuli National Monument, through partnerships with local preservation groups. Grants may also be used to encourage and support the research, interpretation, and preservation of internment camps to help prevent the injustice of internment from being repeated.

Native American Workforce Programs – $55.5 million (nationwide), despite President Trump’s proposed elimination. This funding supports programs that provide quality employment and training services to Native Hawaiian organizations, tribes, tribal organizations, Alaska Native entities, and Indian controlled organizations serving unemployed and low income Native Hawaiians, Native Americans, and Alaska Natives.  

Native Hawaiian and Alaska Native Culture and Art – $1.25 million (Hawai‘i and Alaska). Under the National Recreation and Preservation programs, Senator Schatz secured funding for grants to nonprofit organizations or institutions that support programs for Native Hawaiian or Alaska Native culture and arts development.

Invasive Species Control – $38 million (nationwide). The USGS Biological Threats and Invasive Species Research Program supports essential research, management tools, and support to meet the science needs of resource managers to reduce or eliminate the threat of invasive species and wildlife disease.  Due to the high number of invasive species in Hawai‘i, a significant portion of this funding is directed to the state for projects related to brown tree snakes, regional biosecurity, rapid ohia death, and many others.

Macadamia Nut Health Initiative – $1 million. This funding will support research to combat and control the felted macadamia nut coccid to improve the production of this iconic Hawaiian crop.

Food Security Microgrants – $2 million. This funding will go towards helping individuals and groups in Hawai‘i purchase tools, soil, seeds, plants, animals, composting units, gardening systems, and other necessities for growing and preserving food. The funds can also be used to expand areas under cultivation, extend the growing season, build or repair livestock fencing, travel to agricultural education programs, expand the sale of locally grown crops and meats, and to engage in other activities that increase food security.

WaterSMART Grants – $55 million (nationwide), with projects in Hawai‘i now eligible. The competitively awarded, locally cost-shared WaterSMART grants support local water management projects that conserve and use water more efficiently, increase the use of clean, renewable energy, protect endangered species, and facilitate water markets.

Environmental Restoration on Formerly Used Defense Sites – $289 million (nationwide), despite a proposed cut from President Trump. 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 to ensure that military training and activities remain in balance with Hawai‘i’s local needs. Senator Schatz worked to secure an additional $72 million above the president’s budget.

STEM Apprenticeship Grant Program – $2 million (nationwide). The new funding will implement a new grant program created by Senator Schatz. The new program at the Economic Development Administration will help create new apprenticeships in STEM fields.

State of the Birds Research – $3.5 million, a $250,000 increase from last year. State of the Birds activities are dedicated to stopping the bird extinction crisis in Hawai‘i. More than 90 Hawaiian bird species have gone extinct, and nine listed Hawaiian bird species are currently in decline. These funds are crucial to prevent further extinctions as climate change, habitat degradation and destruction, and other human and environmental impacts threaten to reach crisis levels.

Hansen’s Disease Treatment in Hawai‘i – $1.9 million. Under this Health Resources and Services Administration (HRSA) program, payments are made to the State of Hawai‘i for the medical care and treatment of persons with Hansen’s Disease in its hospital and clinic facilities in Kalaupapa and Honolulu. Programs supported by HRSA to address Hansen’s Disease are particularly important in states like Hawai‘i that have large populations of immigrants from nations with high rates of the disease.

OTHER HIGHLIGHTS FOR HAWAI‘I

Papahanaumokuakea Sanctuary Designation – The deal includes a provision directing the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration to commence the process to designate Papahanaumokuakea Marine National Monument as a National Marine Sanctuary. Sanctuary status for the Monument would make it more difficult to weaken the protections in the Executive Orders signed by Presidents Obama and Bush. 

Post Office Service – The bill ensures that six day delivery of mail continues, and guarantees that no funds may be used by the United States Post Office to close small rural and other small post offices, including post offices in Hakalau, Lihue, Hana, and Kalaupapa.

Invasive Agricultural Pest Control – The bill includes a provision directing the Agricultural Research Service to assess options for controlling invasive agricultural pests in the Pacific, including the construction of an invasive species biocontrol research and development facility. A positive assessment could lead to expanding the Pacific Basin Agricultural Research Center to include better facilities to study how to eradicate, control, and manage invasive agricultural pests such as Coffee Leaf Rust and the Two-Line Spittlebug.

Coffee Leaf Rust – The bill urges the USDA to provide emergency response resources for agricultural pests that threaten high value crops in Hawai‘i. This direction will help coffee farmers because of the recent discovery of Coffee Leave Rust (CLR) on Maui and Hawai‘i islands. CLR poses an enormous threat to Hawai‘i’s $54 million coffee industry. In other locations where CLR has become established, farmers have lost up to 30-80 percent of their crops.

Maui Space Surveillance Research – $17.1 million. This funding includes $12.1 million for the Maui Space Surveillance System and a $5 million increase to the Air Force space technology program that Senator Schatz secured to harness advancements in digital engineering. The additional funding will allow the Air Force Research Laboratory to create a collaborative digital engineering platform to simulate future complex space vehicle in-flight experiments and demonstration.

High Performance Computing Modernization Program – $228 million, despite President Trump’s $40 million proposed cut. This 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 $40 million above the president’s budget.

FAA Accountability – The package includes the Federal Aviation Administration Accountability Enhancement Act, S.4565, which strengthens and clarifies the role of the FAA whistleblower office, including by providing it authority to investigate certain instances of whistleblower retaliation and creating an FAA whistleblower ombudsman to ensure FAA employees are properly educated on prohibited acts of whistleblower retaliation.

Taxpayer Services – The bill directs the IRS to properly staff Taxpayer Assistance Centers and offices of the Taxpayer Advocate Service in Hawai‘i to help resolve complex taxpayer problems. Because of Hawai‘i’s distance from the mainland, Hawai‘i residents often experience difficulty receiving needed tax assistance by the national toll-free line. It is therefore imperative that the IRS improve face-to-face taxpayer services offered in Hawai‘i.

Project HOPE Opportunity Probation with Enforcement – $4.5 million (nationwide). Based on Hawai‘i’s Opportunity Probation with Enforcement (HOPE) program, this high-intensity supervision program reduces probation violations by drug offenders and others at high risk of recidivism. The funds will support the existing federal program to replicate the HOPE model and provide $500,000 to establish an institute to provide training, technical assistance, and best practices to assist other jurisdictions with the program.

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