Hawaii Naval forces could lose billions to sequester

Hawaii Naval forces could lose billions to sequester
Leroy Laney
Leroy Laney

HONOLULU (HawaiiNewsNow) - Navy Region Hawaii encompasses ships, submarines, thousands of active duty officers and personnel and civilian employees.

The U.S. Navy said in Hawaii, sequestration would slash nearly $8 billion dollars in government investment that would be sunk into ships, aircraft, weapons and research and development.

Hawaii Pacific University economist Leroy Laney said military spending, especially from the Navy, injects a lot of money into Hawaii's economy.

"If they're cutting back then that could threaten jobs," he said. "It could amount to billions of dollars in injections into the Hawaii economy."

Earlier this month, the Pentagon said the pending budget uncertainty would delay deployment of the aircraft carrier USS Harry S. Truman, and the guided missile cruiser USS Gettysburg to the Middle East.

Laney said Hawaii's strategic position in the Pacific may shield the state.

"We're far forward. We're on U.S. soil. We are close to a number of trouble spots in East Asia and in the Indian Ocean. For that reason some military presence here is desirable and needed," he said.

The Pentagon estimates the furlough of defense workers in Hawaii would cost over $138 million in lost payroll. Navy Region Hawaii includes Pearl Harbor Naval Shipyard, where more than 300 workers could lose their jobs. The region also includes the Pacific Missile Range on Kauai.

"What the decision makers in the budget and in Washington in general, not just in the Pentagon, have to do is balance national security against these attempts to cut back on federal spending in general," Laney said.

He said if U.S. Sen. Daniel Inouye were still alive, he may have been able to lessen the impact of sequestration on his home state.

"I think that we would not have as much to fear," he said.

On Friday, U.S. Rep. Tulsi Gabbard discussed sequestration with officers at Joint Base Pearl Harbor-Hickam.

What could happen with military money in Hawaii is still evolving. The Pentagon said if the sequester takes effect and current appropriations expire, America's security will feel it.

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