By U.S. Rep. Tulsi Gabbard – The across-the-board, arbitrary cuts imposed by sequestration will be devastating and unfortunately it appears more likely every day that it will occur on March 1.
Secretary of Defense Leon Panetta’s announcement highlights the urgency to avoid these cuts, but also the real people and families who will be impacted in Hawai‘i. The Defense Department employs more than 21,000 civilians in Hawai‘i, many of which could face unpaid furlough days in an already tough economy.
We will all need to share in the sacrifice during these difficult budget years, but it cannot be done solely on the backs of our middle class, military readiness and still-recovering economy.
I will continue to push for an alternative to sequestration through targeted cuts in spending and eliminating tax loopholes for special interests.
Hawai‘i is one of the top 10 states that would take the biggest hit from these cuts. A large percentage of our overall state economy and the impact on our local military-related companies and small businesses will also be significant, including employers like BAE Systems, Inc.
The company announced this week that it may lose its ship maintenance contract with the U.S. Navy and more than 350 employees in Hawai‘i will be furloughed. It is clear that we are already seeing negative effects and must pass an alternative to these arbitrary cuts immediately.
Read Secretary Panetta’s full message here.