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The Honolulu Advertiser
Posted on: Tuesday, February 5, 2002

Military building projects face cuts

By Susan Roth
Advertiser Washington Bureau

WASHINGTON — President Bush's budget proposal of more than $200 million in military construction for Hawai'i next year is about half the money approved by Congress for fiscal 2002.

Military personnel clamored yesterday to shake hands with President Bush after a speech at Eglin Air Force Base in Florida. Although Bush's proposed budget would increase defense spending, it cuts some military construction projects.

Pensacola News Journal via Associated Press

While Congress last year approved nearly $383 million for military construction in Hawai'i, the proposed Bush budget for fiscal 2003 released yesterday calls for $150 million for construction projects and another $54 million for replacement of housing at Marine Corps Base Hawai'i at Kane'ohe and Hickam Air Force Base.

Nationally, the Pentagon says its $9 billion budget proposal for construction and family housing "reflects the administration's emphasis on improving the quality of life for military personnel by providing better working and living conditions." But the administration said it made cuts in this area because it doesn't want to waste money on bases that could be eliminated in the next round of closures, scheduled for 2005.

Although none of Hawai'i's bases is in danger of closure, the proposed budget does not contain many projects. There is, however, money for one new project that had been on the Hawai'i congressional delegation's wish list for years: $22.5 million for the first phase of a complex of buildings for the Army National Guard at Barbers Point.

Other projects in the proposal include: $91 million for continued work at Schofield Barracks; $10.5 million for dock work at Pearl Harbor Naval Base; $23.4 million to continue work on a missile defense test facility on Kaua'i; and $2.7 million to replace the clinic at Hickam.

"I'm pleased to see the Bush administration's continued emphasis on quality of life for our service members and federal employees," said Sen. Daniel Akaka, D-Hawai'i, a senior member of the Senate Armed Services Committee.

Other members of the congressional delegation could not be reached for comment.