Decreases in Federal Funding Require New Path for Hawaii’s Policy Makers

Emphasis should be on creating opportunity, stronger economy

HONOLULU, HAWAII–Nov. 7, 2014–With observers wondering how Republican control of Congress will affect federal dollars to Hawaii, one organization sees room for growth and opportunity in the changing political landscape. According to the Grassroot Institute of Hawaii, a decline in the amount of Federal dollars spent in Hawaii was always to be expected without Senators Inouye and Akaka in Congress. Now, they say, it is time to chart a new path for the state that is less dependent on government funds.

Despite the widely-held perception that a Republican-held House and Senate mean reduced federal funds to Hawaii, this is not the primary reason that the state should expect a decrease in government money to the state. Federal budgetary issues, planned cuts in military spending, and the loss of the influence held by Senators Inouye and Akaka all play a role in the expected decline. For a state that generally sees $9 to $10 billion in federal spending per year (and more than $20 billion in 2011 and 2012), this may seem like a matter for concern. However, there are benefits to be found in a reduced dependence on federal money.

“Hawaii has the opportunity to create a strong economy that is less dependent on federal dollars,” stated Keli’i Akina, Ph.D., President of the Grassroot Institute of Hawaii. “This is not the time to bemoan the inevitable spending cuts, but to take a more serious look at our economy  and embrace policies that will improve our business climate, reduce our unfunded liabilities, and cut down on government spending.”

“Initiatives like a limited Jones Act exemption for Hawaii and the non-contiguous territories now have a better chance of being heard in Congress,” Dr. Akina continued. “That would help lower our cost of living and improve the state’s economy. Hawaii’s Congressional delegation should consider the opportunity for building common ground with the Republican majority through openness to such policy reforms for the sake of Hawaii’s economic future.”

Grassroot Institute works with a diverse community of scholars and policy makers to find common-ground for solutions to Hawaii’s economic policy needs.  Inquiries and invitations for interviews are welcome.

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