Gov cites Micronesian,
Marshallese aid

Hawaii did not get as much
compact-impact help as
was requested

While Hawaii didn't get as much money as it wanted from the federal government to provide services for Micronesian and Marshallese immigrants, that won't deter the state from continuing to push for more aid, Gov. Linda Lingle says.

"In politics, we deal with it all the time -- you don't get everything you want all the time," Lingle said. "But you need to be going in the right direction, and the agreement certainly was going in the right direction from my point of view."

Lingle was speaking of the federal government's allocation of $30 million to be divided among Hawaii, Guam, American Samoa and the Northern Mariana Islands to provide social services for Micronesian and Marshallese immigrants who arrive on their shores under the Compacts of Free Association.

The compacts -- which allow Micronesians and Marshallese to freely come to the United States and its territories -- were first negotiated in 1986 and renewed last month by the Bush administration. They recognize the island nations' independence and set forth a financial and tactical relationship between their governments and the U.S. government.

Upon renewal, the compacts were amended to include $30 million for Hawaii and the other territories, which have long lobbied the U.S. government to help foot the bill for providing education, health and other services for immigrants.

Guam received the highest share of the funds, $14.2 million, based on the number of immigrants who live there. Hawaii received $10.5 million.

The distribution formula caused a rift between the U.S. Department of the Interior, which oversees Insular Affairs, and Hawaii's congressional delegation, which led to the cancellation of a planned ceremony last week in Honolulu to announce the grants.

Lingle agreed that $10.5 million won't cover the costs of providing for immigrants, but it still is more than Hawaii has received in the past.

"I don't think anybody felt they got enough," Lingle said at a news conference last week, flanked by Northern Marianas Gov. Juan Babauta and American Samoa Gov. Togiola Tulafono.

"As the congressional delegation stated, they will be working hard to get additional funding in the future," she said. "But it was more than we were getting previously by a substantial amount, so it's progress in the right direction."

In Hawaii, officials say the state spent about $32 million in 2002 providing services for a population of about 7,000 Marshallese, and a slightly smaller number of Micronesians.

The state received about $3 million for fiscal year 2003 in so-called compact-impact aid.


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