Federal cuts could lead to furloughs, Kalaeloa Airport changes - Hawaii News Now - KGMB and KHNL

Federal cuts could lead to furloughs, Kalaeloa Airport changes

Caroline Sluyter Caroline Sluyter
Lt. Col. Chuck Anthony Lt. Col. Chuck Anthony
Governor Neil Abercrombie Governor Neil Abercrombie
HONOLULU (HawaiiNewsNow) -

Frustration continues to grow with federal workers who aren't sure what to expect with the federal sequestration cuts.  In addition to the economic impacts to thousands of families there are also readiness impact concerns during an emergency.

Bigger airports like Honolulu International may be impacted if TSA workers are furloughed and fewer screeners are available to check passengers.  Right now the only Hawaii airport on the list to lose air traffic controllers is the John Rogers Field at Kalaeloa.

It is used by the Hawaii National Guard, U.S. Coast Guard and private planes.  It has 16 air traffic controllers that work from 6:00 am to 10:00 pm seven days a week.  We're told there is enough money to stay open through September, but after that the controllers could be let go.

"Obviously safety is our number one priority so I know they are working behind the scenes to make sure the traveling public is safe," said Caroline Sluyter, Hawaii Department of Transportation.

To view the list of affected airports and facilities nationwide click here.

Thousands of federal workers in the state could be furloughed including 1,100 soldiers and airmen in the Hawaii National Guard who are classified as federal technicians in same category as Department of Defense civilians.  They would be furloughed one day a week losing 20 percent of their salary.  The furloughs could begin in April.  Some people may be let go all together.

"The longer sequestration goes the worse it gets in terms of not just the economic impact to soldiers and airmen and their families, but just to readiness in general," said Lt. Col. Chuck Anthony, Hawaii National Guard.

The concern is response time in an emergency like a fire, flood or disaster could slow.

"It is a concern to us because it could impact our ability to respond as efficiently as we do today to civil authorities," said Lt. Col. Anthony.

"The immediate question is not what will happen on Friday because this will take some time to unfold but whether or not there will be a complete shutdown of the government within a month," said Governor Neil Abercrombie. "The next thing that we'll have to deal with is whether the government will have to shut down in a month. So the last time that happened was in the mid-1990s. It created great difficulties for everyone and so I hope that particularly the Republican conference in the House of Representatives will listen to the President and come to a quick conclusion."

Not all federal offices in Hawaii will be affected, at least in the beginning.  The Federal Detention Center in Hawaii should not be impacted.

The Federal Court here in Hawaii will continue to work its normal schedule.

"While the federal court had hoped sequestration would not occur, we have tried to prepare for cuts to our budget in fiscal year 2013.  The court has greatly curtailed spending, which permits the court to function without immediate furloughing of court employees.  The court expects to be open and operational during normal working hours for the immediate future.  However, if sequestration continues for an extended time, the court will reassess its position," wrote Sue Beitia, Clerk of Court US District Court, District of Hawaii.

The City & County of Honolulu also uses federal money to hire employees and could be affected by the sequestration cuts.

"The Department of Community Services does have federally funded positions. Until we receive official word on our federal funding for the year, we have no immediate plans to lay off agency staff. When the budget is determined and if we find we must lay off staff, we will follow City policies and the collective bargaining agreements," wrote Pamela Witty-Oakland, Honolulu Department of Community Services Director.


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