Political Radar


October 2nd, 2013

The Sequestration Impact Response Team on Wednesday submitted its final report to Gov. Neil Abercrombie. The team, led by Kalbert Young, the state's budget director, recommended improved data collection, adding $5 million to the $15 million set aside for sequestration by the Legislature, an effort to keep the existing military presence in Hawaii, and preserving revenue for nonprofits.

Abercrombie created SIRT in April to analyze the impact on Hawaii of the automatic federal budget cuts meant to control the deficit. The state has predicted that the overall economic impact is $684 million this year, a small part of the state's gross domestic product, but enough to cause discomfort for many nonprofits and businesses that rely on spending by civilian defense workers.

From the report's foreword:

The spending cuts resulting from the Budget Control Act of 2011 will adversely impact Hawaii’s economy, but reduced funding is likely just the beginning of a new reality of diminishing federal support for states and municipalities. Actually, sequestration is not an entirely new experience. Other sectors of the economy have often dealt with shortfalls in revenues, resulting from downturns in the economic engines that feed our economy.

In response to these conditions, many in the private sector have had to alter their business processes to be more efficient and productive, to lower costs in the face of declining revenues. Companies have had to adapt to these economic realities to survive. And, many companies have learned that they can not only survive but thrive by improving processes, better serving their customers or constituents, and being fiscally responsible.

Government must do likewise! Government should carefully examine existing processes and practices for opportunities to improve efficiency and productivity. But, such re-engineering must be done without adversely impacting Government’s overall responsibilities to the community. In fact, there should be an important focus toward making it easier for all sectors of the economy to survive and thrive.

Hopefully, sequestration will be a catalyst for reinventing government. With the realization that declining federal support will impact the whole community, state government must find ways to help everyone deal with the new realities. Government must help by simplifying and facilitating approvals, eliminating barriers, reducing costs and encouraging business development and innovation for all sectors in the economy.

This report contains findings and recommendations to deal with the immediacy of the sequestration of federal funds. But, it will hopefully serve as just the beginning of a collaborative framework to improve government and foster the continued economic vitality of our beautiful state.

4 Responses to “SIRTed”

  1. ohiaforest3400:

    Recommendation #3 is a thinly veiled admission that the State is addicted to the money that flows from the militarization of Hawaii. In effect, it suggests that environmental and historic preservation concerns are an economic inconvenience to the military and that if the State does not meet the military's infrastructure and training demands (i.e., provide unrestricted access to Oahu training areas (e.g.., Makua)), it will move its combat units to the Mainland and minimize its other presence here. Hooray!

    The complete absence on the SIRT of a contrary viewpoint (i.e., the damaging effect of the military tail wagging the civilian dog) and the utter fawning over military money by the SIRT was nothing short of appalling.

  2. Gale:

    Thank you to all the law enforcement officers working despite the Shutdown. Very poignant that the Capitol Police who had to deal with today's attacker were doing so without pay.

  3. Kolea:

    Who can argue against having the government run "more efficiently." What is unclear is what criteria are suggested for measuring that efficiency. If Kalbert Young truly believes the practices and criteria for efficiency of businesses should serve as inspiration for the government, can he please, explicitly speak to the common practice in businesses of cutting employee salaries, benefits and hours, while granting top officers substantial raises and bonuses? In addition, many businesses outsource portions of their work to outside contractors.

    Is Mr. Young recommending the state follow these practices or is he willing to say they are off-limits? The imperatives of businesses are not the same as those of government. This distinction is particularly important to keep in mind during a recession. Unless Young clarifies those distinctions, it sounds like he is just repeating rightwing talking points rather than applying aclearsighted analysis.

  4. Especially Incognito:

    The people complain as they are at fault.

    SIRT happens and it hit the fan.
    Almost five years and lollygagging has
    cost America its reputation and credibility
    to be a power nation. Maybe for the better
    that we sit at the bottom and just worry about
    Americans and let the world fend for themselves.

    I take this as a blessing in disguise. Forget wars
    and just concentrate on being America for Americans.

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