Local Connection: Sequestration and Hawaii's Military

Local Connection: Sequestration and Hawaii's Military

By: Rick Blangiardi

We just celebrated a record tourism year and word is that we might have a shot at another high-water mark this year with airline seats already filling up rapidly.

But for the other end of our economic equation, our military, the signs are not at all good.

Military leaders recently told Hawaii lawmakers that $85 billion in federal budget cuts would have a devastating impact on our state.

Rear Adm. Denny Wetherald of the U.S. Pacific Fleet said this: "Instead of the analogy of falling off a (fiscal) cliff, it's more realistic to see sequestration as falling down a long, steep and bumpy hill, painfully hitting rocks along the way."

Furloughs for Department of Defense employees could bring pay cuts up to 20 percent and civilian workers could lose $24 million in wages this year alone.

The Army plans to ground helicopters in July,  limit training exercises and the availability of family programs includin healthcare for retirees.

One shipyard subcontractor told the lawmakers that is has already cut 60 percent of its staff. BAE Systems said the military contracting company has already let go 70 employees and could furlough or terminate another 250 people.

The military industry is worth nearly $15 billion in Hawaii and per capita, the state would be hit harder by defense cuts than any other State.

Sobering news indeed and we are hopeful that the Congress will find a way to keep Hawaii, the nation and our defense strong.

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