State preparing for millions lost in federal cuts - Hawaii News Now - KGMB and KHNL

State preparing for millions lost in federal cuts

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Kalbert Young Kalbert Young
Gov. Neil Abercrombie Gov. Neil Abercrombie
HONOLULU (HawaiiNewsNow) -

The federal sequestration cuts have begun.  The world continues to turn, however Homeland Security has sent a memo out about security here at the federal building in Downtown Honolulu. Starting Monday there will be increased security at the federal building.  According to the letter every sixth person will be searched, except for judges.

Today federal workers left for the weekend unsure exactly what's going to happen next.  Some departments will have meetings on Monday.  Workers are expecting 22 furlough days from April through September.

The state predicts Hawaii's 19,000 federal workers will lose $138 million in wages.  On average that's more than $7,200 cut per employee.  If the government shuts down the losses will be worse.

"I'm using the analogy of the ripple because we're looking at the end of the month when the big wave will come," said Governor Neil Abercrombie.

The Governor has set aside $50 million over two years to supplement federally funded programs, although that won't cover everything.

"Make no mistake it is not presumed that every program that loses federal funds will be able to be accommodated to maintain their current operational level," said Kalbert Young, State Finance Director.

Airport lines, law enforcement, border security and food inspections will all be impacted.  So will non-profit organizations.  That contingency money will not go to non-profits, at least not to start.

The governor is also forming a sequestration impact response team made up of government, military and business leaders. Together they will work on strategies for working around the cuts.

Governor Abercrombie, who worked in Congress two decades, expects politicians got us into this mess.  They'll get us out.

"The desire to preserve oneself politically is going to prevail and we'll be back on track sooner rather than later," said Governor Abercrombie.

The state will learn more in the coming days regarding funding formulas and reductions in grants.

Federal funding for the rail could be affected.  Transit administrators are monitoring but say even if the city got less funding this year it will be made up later in later years.  The Honolulu Authority for Rapid Transportation expects it will still add up to the full $1.5 billion agreed upon amount.

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