Hawaii federal workers worry pledged spending cuts could spur layoffs

Updated: Mar. 27, 2017 at 6:00 PM HST
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KAPOLEI, OAHU (HawaiiNewsNow) - The president's proposed budget includes deep cuts to a number of federal agencies, and federal workers fear in the islands fear that could translate into layoffs, furloughs and big impacts to services for residents.

"Of course our members are concerned, extremely concerned with a new administration, new president with the cuts to federal agencies -- very concerned," Lisa Marie Akau, a national organizer for the American Federation of Government Employees.

The president's fiscal year 2018 partial budget request is just a blueprint, but it includes cuts to the Education and Transportation departments by 13 percent; cuts to Health and Human Services by 17.9 percent or $15.1 billion, and a 31 percent cut to the Environmental Protection Agency.

And that's not all.

"Other cuts will limit access to healthcare and entitlement benefits such as social security. Cuts to social security will deteriorate services and the public will suffer," said Theresa McMoore, AFGE Hawaii president.

At the Social Security Administration office in Kapolei on Monday, teacher Dawn Cone was gearing up for retirement by applying for benefits.

"It was quick, it was wonderful, the person who interviewed me was very knowledgeable and helpful. It was a wonderful experience," said Cone, who is 62.

But that experience may change if Trump's proposed budget is approved.

AFGE represents represents over 700,000 federal employees nationwide, including about 3,000 in Hawaii.

There's thousands more non-unionized workers in the islands.

Ryan Mims, legislative political organizer for AFGE District 12, said if the budget is approved, "there's going to be layoffs."

"There's already a hiring freeze where they're already expecting federal employees to do more work with fewer resources," Mims said.

Meanwhile, Trump's budget also includes big spending increases to the military and homeland security spending.

And that could benefit the islands.

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