Sequestration impact on Hawaii still unclear

Sequestration impact on Hawaii still unclear
Published: Jun. 24, 2013 at 10:05 PM HST|Updated: Jun. 24, 2013 at 11:48 PM HST
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HONOLULU (HawaiiNewsNow) - On March 1, Gov. Neil Abercrombie called for the formation of a Sequestration Impact Response Team to address nationwide federal spending reductions. The team is still trying to fill the 25 slots with people from government, the military, business and non-profits.

"Thus far we've received less than one-half of the responses from all the organizations that have been solicited," team chairman Kalbert Young said.

He said the state is still waiting on the federal government's final assessment of how much sequestration will cost, so there's breathing room to get his team together.

"With 90 days left to go in the federal fiscal year, I think we have enough time," Young said.

The state anticipates up to $45 million in federal funding reductions. It has $15 million in appropriated funds to help state programs.

Non-profits have already felt the pinch.

"We are anticipating that we could lose potentially close to $100,000 in federal funding in the next fiscal year," said Judith Clark of Hawaii Youth Services Network.

"Our impoverished disadvantaged communities that rely so heavily on non-profit services statewide, they will definitely feel this as some organizations curtail services or even close some of their programs," said Lisa Maruyama of the Hawaii Alliance of Nonprofit Organizations.

Maruyama estimates a $1.3 million hit to Head Start and big funding cuts to programs that help children and the elderly.

Aloha United Way chief operating officer Norm Baker said non-profits are lost.

"We just don't know exactly what's going to happen," he said. "The problem is that the federal funding is the source of much of the state funding. The state then turns around and uses that funding to contract with the non-profits."

Young hopes to have his response team ready for its first meeting next month. He wants to have a report ready for the governor by the end of the federal fiscal year September 30.

"I don't want anybody to think that the Sequestration Impact Response Team is going to be able to provide funding in the private or public space to make up for reductions of federal funding," he said.

The federal government said funding cuts could top $80 billion. It's still a mystery how deep sequestration will dig into Hawaii's pocket.

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