Federal stimulus: Hawai’i cuts schools but boosts military construction

The choices leaders make in times of crisis like the present reveal something of their true character and interests.

As a result of furloughs, the state of Hawai’i recently came in last for number of public school days.  Mark Niesse of the AP recently reported:

At 163 school days, Hawaii’s school year ranks behind every other state. Most states provide students with 180 days of school, while 10 other states offer less than 180 days, according to the Education Commission of the States.

It’s a matter of misplaced priorities. The U.S. Secretary of Education Arne Duncan wrote an editorial criticizing the state’s decision to cut public schools.   Most states applied the federal economic stimulus funds to keep teachers employed and schools open:

Of the 640,239 jobs recipients claimed to have created or saved so far, officials said, more than half — 325,000 — were in education. Most were teachers’ jobs that states said were saved when stimulus money averted a need for layoffs.

Instead, Hawai’i used federal stimulus funds to build up military bases.  According to the Pacific Business Journal, $122 million went to 182 federal contracts and created 250 jobs:

Armed with federal contracts, Hawaii businesses have created or saved 250 jobs in the eight months since the creation of the economic stimulus package, according to preliminary data…

The jobs are tied to federal contracts, most of which cover construction and environmental projects for the military.

Here’s a article from this summer about the military stimulus.    How militarized are we?



Isle military stimulus funds arriving

By Gregg K. Kakesako

POSTED: 01:30 a.m. HST, May 26, 2009

Money from the federal economic stimulus package has started to flow into the islands, with the Navy putting out nearly $42 million in construction contracts and the Hawaii congressional delegation announcing about $64 million in Army projects.

Naval Facilities Engineering Command Hawaii at Pearl Harbor recently awarded three contracts totaling $41.9 million. A statement from the Naval Facilities Command said Hawaii is in line to receive $124 million to modernize Navy and Marine Corps facilities.

Two contracts are going to local companies:

» $10.6 million to Healy Tibbitts Builders Inc. to repair Pearl Harbor’s Sierra 1 submarine wharf.

» $11.3 million to Hawaiian Dredging Construction Co. for repairs to Pearl Harbor’s pier Bravo 4 and wharf Bravo 5. The project had been scheduled for fiscal year 2010 but was moved up due to the economic stimulus awards.

A $20 million contract was awarded to Bulltrack-Watts, a Joint-Venture, of Marysville, Calif., to repair runways at Pacific Missile Range Facility at Kauai’s Barking Sands.

The repair of runways, taxiways and aprons has come at “a critical time,” said Capt. Aaron Cudnohufsky, commanding officer at the Kauai missile range. “The asphalt surfaces are at the end of their 25-year service life, and the repair costs over the past few years for patching and sealing the failing surfaces have significantly increased. This project will ensure the PMRF airfield is mission ready for the next 25 years.”

Capt. Rick Kitchens, commanding officer of Pearl Harbor Naval Station, said Sierra 1 is one of Pearl Harbor’s historic submarine wharfs, built in 1942.

Without the economic stimulus money, Kitchens said the repairs would have not occurred for at least another year, possibly longer.

Healy Tibbitts will repair concrete support piles and superstructure as well as the fender system that protects submarines while they are docked at the wharf. The work also includes installing an oil containment flotation device called a Perma Boom.

Hawaiian Dredging will renovate the pier superstructure, concrete-supporting piles, and concrete deck curbing of Pearl Harbor’s pier Bravo 4, built in 1928, and wharf Bravo 5, built in 1932. The work will also include repairs to the asphalt topping, timber pile fender system, mooring hardware and utilities that have become damaged or deteriorated due to years of exposure to the marine environment.

The Army will get about $64 million in stimulus funds.

The Army Corps of Engineers said $4.9 million will be spent to dredge and maintain Haleiwa Small Boat Harbor and Waianae Small Boat Harbor and replace air-conditioning units and renovate restrooms at Kalaeloa Barbers Point Harbor.

Hawaii’s congressional delegation said the Pentagon will spend about $59 million on job-creating construction projects at Schofield Barracks, Wheeler Army Airfield and Fort Shafter on Oahu and Bradshaw Army Airfield and Pohakuloa Training Area on the Big Island.

The Army will spend $683,000 to install a photovoltaic system and generator set at Pohakuloa’s Bradshaw Airfield. An additional $1.9 million has been allocated to install two photovoltaic systems on two other buildings at the Big Island Army base.

At Fort Shafter, $5.7 million will be spent to repair the Staff Judge Advocate building, pay for termite repairs at Palm Circle and repair the youth center building and the library.

At Schofield Barracks, $33.5 million will go to install solar heating systems, renovate a motor pool and other buildings, install photovoltaic systems and upgrade other facilities.

Wheeler will receive $17.4 million to rebuild or replace several buildings and repair roofs, solar water heating systems and roads.

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