Proposed cuts to funding for Native Hawaiian programs cause alarm

Proposed cuts to funding for Native Hawaiian programs cause alarm

HONOLULU (HawaiiNewsNow) - President Trump’s budget request for fiscal year 2020 proposes $52 million in cuts to education programs that benefit Native Hawaiians and Native Alaskans.

It’s the third year the president’s administration has zeroed out Native Hawaiian funding.

"I was alarmed to hear it again, having gone through this before. It’s just not right,' said Namaka Rawlins, director of strategic partnerships and collaborations for nonprofit Aha Punana Leo.

Native Hawaiian language programs like Aha Punana Leo received $700,000 in competitive federal grants each year for three years, while other nonprofits like INPEACE were awarded nearly $3 million in annual federal grants.

The money is for programs like the Keiki Steps preschool.

“You are talking about a large removal of a lot of services of our community based organizations services. They are probably serving everything from child care to education,” said Laakea Yoshida, INPEACE chief operating officer.

U.S. Sen. Brian Schatz, who’s on the Senate Appropriations Committee, called the president’s budget “dead on arrival.”

"He tried to cut these same programs before, and we stopped him. This time is no different.”

U.S. Rep. Ed Case, who’s on the House Appropriations Committee, added that the Hawaii congressional delegation is fighting to restore and even increase funding to Native Hawaiian programs.

“Any organization that gets federal funding, and we have many in Hawaii of course, they should be alarmed if the administration zeros them out. We have whole areas where you can’t explain it other than an ignorance of the importance,” said Case.

The Office of Hawaiian Affairs says these programs help the federal government meet its special trust responsibility owed to Native Hawaiians.

Trump’s budget request also includes cuts to the East-West Center and other Hawaii programs.

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