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Massive stimulus package could give isles a boost


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POSTED: Thursday, February 12, 2009

The massive federal spending bill designed to take the nation out of a recession has at least $587.6 million in new money for Hawaii.

The entire bill is estimated at $789 billion.

Hawaii's senior Sen. Daniel Inouye, chairman of the Appropriations Committee, was involved in the last-minute bargaining between the House and Senate yesterday.

Senate Majority Leader Sen. Harry Reid noted that Inouye was one of “;two exceptional senators negotiating this legislation.”; Sen. Max Baucus, chairman of the Finance Committee, was the other named by Reid.

“;We do not have the luxury of time. We must expeditiously face the facts and pass this measure,”; Inouye said yesterday at a news conference in the U.S. Capitol.

“;If we delay this, it could lead to a crisis worse than the Great Depression, because today we're much more than just a nation, we're a superpower. If we go down, there'll be chaos on this globe,”; Inouye said.

Even though both the House and Senate announced yesterday they had reached agreement, Inouye was conducting caucus meetings and negotiations last night, according to staff members in Honolulu.

The bill includes $587.6 million for highways and transit, education and social services, housing and the environment.

The details, according to Inouye's office, are being worked out, but Hawaii should get $32 million in new highway funding and $126 million for public schools and higher-education needs.

Also part of Hawaii's allocation is an additional $30.7 million for extended unemployment benefits, Inouye said. The remaining money is spread among various funds.

Although it will stretch out for more than two years, the increased assistance to Hawaii for Medicaid reimbursement payments is calculated at $3.6 billion.