HONOLULU (HawaiiNewsNow) - U.S. Sen. Daniel Inouye said an important part of his job was securing federal funds for Hawaii.
"If you study the Constitution, it makes it very clear that the power of the purse is in the legislature. That's us," he told Hawaii News Now in a February interview.
Hawaii Pacific University Economist LeRoy Laney estimates that over the decades, Inouye secured billions of dollars worth of grants and federal earmarks.
"Anytime money comes out of Washington, somehow it's got his fingerprints on it," Laney said.
A recent study by University of Hawaii students estimates Inouye delivered over $71 million in federal funding to UH from 2006 to 2010. The report valued his financial impact statewide at between $200 million and $450 million a year. Most of went to the military.
"It was especially important to Hawaii because Hawaii is such a small state. We're less than half of one percent of total U.S. GDP," Laney said.
Inouye secured money for Kauai's Pacific Missile Range, the Maui Supercomputer, Pearl Harbor naval shipyard and the East-West Center, just to name a few.
"I think in the non-profit sector it's hard to quantify whether it was through federal support or even just through homegrown projects, grassroots projects that he initiated here," said Lisa Maruyama of the Hawaii Alliance of Non-Profit Organizations.
Hawaii Primary Care Association received over a million dollars in Inouye-driven grants annually to help the state's
14 community health centers, which also got direct federal funding.
"He's a very instrumental person, giving us the lift to know what we're doing was the right thing to do. He really cared about the people of Hawaii," CEO Robert Hirokawa said.
Some colleagues called Inouye's appropriations wasteful spending.
"I was elected by the people of Hawaii," he said in that February interview.
From astronomy to agriculture, Hawaii industries and non-profits saw him as a savior.