GOP plan would cut tsunami warning center budget

Friday - 3/11/2011, 7:30pm EST

BY MATTHEW DALY
Associated Press

A spending plan approved by the House would slash funding for a tsunami warning center that issued an alarm after the devastating earthquake in Japan.

The plan approved by the GOP-controlled House last month would trigger deep cuts for the National Weather Service, including the Pacific Tsunami Warning Center in Hawaii.

The tsunami warning program has a base budget of $28 million with an additional $12 million that will run out in fiscal year 2012, said Laura Furgione, NWS deputy assistant administrator in a phone call today with reporters.

"We do the best with what we have, and I think today it showed we were able to successfully get the information out to everybody who needed it," Furgione said.

A union representing workers at the tsunami center said the proposed cuts could result in furloughs and rolling closures of NWS offices.

Barry Hirshorn, Pacific region chairman of the National Weather Service Employees Organization, said the GOP bill would affect the center's ability to issue warnings similar to those issued after Friday's earthquake in Japan.

Democratic Rep. Colleen Hanabusa of Hawaii called the GOP cuts reckless and even dangerous.

WFED's Jolie Lee contributed to this story.