White House releases list of sequestration cuts for Hawaii

Published: Feb. 24, 2013 at 9:37 PM HST|Updated: Feb. 25, 2013 at 6:48 PM HST
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HONOLULU (HawaiiNewsNow) - The White House has released a list of cuts that could affect Hawaii if sequestration cuts take effect Friday.

The biggest cuts would come in the Department of Defense budget, resulting in the furloughs of 20,000 civilian employees in the islands. That would reduce pay by $134.1 million dollars.

Rep. Colleen Hanabusa (D-1st Congressional District) said the administration may be partly to blame because the Defense Department didn't plan for the possible cutbacks.

Hanabusa, who sits on the House Armed Services Committee, said she had asked Defense officials how sequester cuts could affect Hawaii. "And they were planning their budgets without any consideration of sequestration, because they thought it would never happen. And now we're caught like this," she said.

In other defense cuts, the White House said the Army would have to cut $106 million from base operations in Hawaii. The Air Force would have to cut $15 million from its operations budget. The Navy said maintenance and repair of the U.S.S. Chafee could be cancelled.

"There will be an immediate economic impact, but it's not just that," said Sen. Brian Schatz (D). "It undermines our ability to be prepared in the case something happens in the Asia-Pacific region."

The next biggest cuts would come in education funding. According to the White House, some 60 teacher and aide jobs would be at risk in public schools, as Hawaii would lose $4.7 million in funding for primary and secondary education. It also said Hawaii will lose about $2 million in funds for about 20 teachers, aides and staff who help children with disabilities.

The White House said programs that provide meals for seniors could be cut by about $189,000, and crime prevention programs could lose $79,000 in Justice Assistance Grants to law enforcement, prosecutors and courts.

Even though the deadline is looming, lawmakers remain hopeful as they return to Washington Sunday night.

"They want to see us act like grownups and play well together," said Hanabusa. "And I think everyone's getting that message."

"This is a totally self-inflicted crisis, and there's still time, if cooler heads prevail and we compromise," said Schatz.

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