Deal avoids shutdown, saves thousands of Hawaii paychecks - Hawaii News Now - KGMB and KHNL

Deal avoids shutdown, saves thousands of Hawaii paychecks

By Howard Dicus

HONOLULU and WASHINGTON (HawaiiNewsNow) - The late night deal in the nation's capital to keep the federal government running means no interruption in paycheck for thousands of federal employees, including soldiers, in Hawaii.

What has been called a shutdown of the federal government would have still left thousands of employees working, but even those not furloughed would have had their pay interrupted until Washington officials settled their differences and passed a funding bill.

A shutdown would have also harmed Hawaii tourism, its main economic engine, by closing the Arizona Memorial, Volcanoes National Park, and other visitor attractions.

Still working, though without paychecks, would have been air traffic controllers, port security inspectors and a variety of other workers deemed "essential," to use the common term, though federal documents in recent years have switched to the term "exempt."

As it was, negotiators for President Obama and House Speaker Boehner reached agreement Friday night on about $40 billion in spending cuts, and, literally at the eleventh hour, corresponding to 5-6 p.m. HST, Boehner presented it to the House GOP Caucus.

The $40 billion target was based on Republicans' desire to roll spending back to where it was at the end of the Bush administration. Democrats initially balked because the Obama administration has increased defense spending since then, and Republicans didn't want defense spending touched, which Democrats said would force deeper cuts in social programs.

Both sides agreed that $40 billion was a small portion of the federal budget, which contains more than $500 billion in defense spending alone. In addition to political arguments over social programs, the two sides debated which sorts of federal spending would or would not stimulate economic recovery.

Copyright 2011 Hawaii News Now. All rights reserved.

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