Technology Centers in the area of oceanography. These centers are the gold standard in research.”
BUILDING ON EACH SUCCESS
He noted also that the mountains of Haleakala on Maui and Mauna Kea on Hawaii were home to the “world’s most prestigious astronomical observatories,” representing more than a billion dollars of investments and an annual economic impact of about $150 million. Among the investments were the $50 million Mirror Coating Facility, funded by industry, and the $300 million Advanced Technology Solar Telescope planned for Haleakala. “Each success builds on the last,” he said, enticing the world’s most acclaimed astronomers to Hawaii. A $1.2 billion, 30-meter telescope is now planned for Mauna Kea. “As I said, you build it, and they’ll come.” He said that Hawaii had also benefited from investments made in the state’s growing technology companies. Many of them, he said, have become increasingly competitive and sustainable.
He closed by touching on the issue of the recent congressional session, during which the Omnibus Spending Bill had been blocked. The primary issue, he said, had been the opposition of many members of Congress to the use of earmarks. He said that in fact spending on earmarks had been reduced since 2006 by more than 75 percent and reformed in significant ways. “We’ve made earmarks completely transparent,” he said. “And the entire Omnibus Spending Bill provided for less than three-quarters of 1 percent of federal discretionary funding.”
As an example of the value of some earmarks, he noted that the Maui High-Performance Computing Center was initially funded as an earmark in 1993 to support Air Force activities on Haleakala. “And over the years the University of Hawaii has done a fine job managing this asset,” he said, “analyzing mountains of data to gather better space situational awareness for national security. The administration and the Pentagon finally realized this should be part of the defense budget, and it is now a DoD supercomputer. Had we not initiated that valid defense requirement, which would also serve as a critical technology cornerstone in Hawaii, this would not have happened.”
The same could be said for the Joint Information Technology Center, he added, which was started by native Hawaiian businesspeople and supported by earmarks. The project provides an electronic means of insuring that all warfighters’ medical records follow them from the war theatre through evacuation and ultimately through medical facilities throughout the United States. This system also tracks such medical resources as blood, bandages, and medication in the military inventory. “And this all came from Hawaii,” he said. “In 2010, it became part of the Defense Department’s annual budget request. Lives were saved and lives will continue to be saved.”