Earmarks flash and burn - Hawaii News Now - KGMB and KHNL

Earmarks flash and burn

Kamaki Worthington Kamaki Worthington
Hokulea Hokulea
Hokulea Hokulea
Nainoa Thompson Nainoa Thompson
Sen. Daniel Inouye Sen. Daniel Inouye

By Teri Okita – bio | email

HONOLULU (HawaiiNewsNow) - It's a critical time for these projects. The appropriations bill basically fell apart on the Senate floor Thursday night with Republicans and Democrats at odds over billions of dollars in earmark spending.

For PVS, the Polynesian Voyaging Society, what happens 6,000 miles away in Washington can be crippling to its cause.

The Hawaiian canoe, Hokulea, has become a national poster child for anti-pork and earmark spending in Congress after Sen. John McCain singled it out earlier this week. PVS is one of about 140 earmarked projects in Hawaii that will likely losing federal funding, as much as $300,000.

"We can't let something like finances get into our heads and hold us back," Hokulea captain Kamaki Worthington said.

Worthington says losing the money will definitely be a setback but not a death knell. They'll try to continue outreach programs, like this one: training teachers about voyaging skills and Hawaiian culture. The hope is these teachers will, in turn, be the conduit to tens of thousands of students. Still, they know the earmark funding is critical.

"If we lost the funding immediately, we'd be in real financial trouble. My guess is we're going to have to make adjustments and find other sources of revenue," Polynesian Voyaging Society's Nainoa Thompson said.

Public works, wildlife services, harbors, agriculture, University of Hawaii research... dozens of programs that affect thousands statewide will likely lose funding. Sen. Daniel Inouye, the unapologetic king of Congressional earmarks, blames partisan gamesmanship.

"What we saw in the past 24 hours was more of the same. Endless delaying tactics followed by decision making by partisan point scoring rather than what is good for our nation," Inouye said.

But Republicans criticized Democrats as wasteful spenders. Outgoing Republican Congressman Charles Djou pointed out that the PVS is just one of six thousand proposed earmarks.

Now the Senate will have to try to hammer out some sort of bill to keep the federal government running into early next year, probably for the next two months likely under what's called a "continuing resolution."

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