Monday, December 17, 2012

Hawaii's Sudden Economic Tsunami

With the sudden death of US Senator Inouye and the retirement of US Senator Akaka, both in December of 2012, Hawaii instantly finds itself at the center of an unprecedented fiscal tsunami due to the total loss of Congressional seniority. The table below indicates that Hawaii's Congressional Seniority changed overnight from stellar to abysmal.
Although well over half of federal funds are appropriated by formula, a large share of local programs are funded by special appropriations and earmarks which would be very hard to obtain in the coming years.

Recent preliminary research by a group of students at UH placed the annual impact of Senator Inouye to Hawaii between $200 Million and $450 Million per year. The students surmised that the sudden loss of Senator Inouye would be similar to the sudden and complete loss of Hawaiian Airlines.

An expanded discussion by Malia Zimmerman "Hawaii, Like Alaska, Could See Huge Fiscal Impact From Loss of Congressional Seniority" combines multiple sources to provide additional information about the financial impact to Hawaii.

-------- January 11, 2013 Update -------- 

 Within about two years, I guestimate that Sen. Inouye's death combined with Sen. Akaka's retirement and the absence of no reps from Hawaii in an Appropriations Committee to cost:
  •     ~ 200 high paying military contract jobs (civilian)
  •     ~ 800 normal paying military contract jobs (civilian)
  •     ~ 300 high paying UH research jobs
  •     And a few dozen other millions in gravy
  •     For a total of at least $200 Million per year of taxable income and related economic activity.
After a couple of years, the East-West Center, UH's Kakaako Medical Research Center, Mauna Kea astronomy investments, many small subsidized programs and the Armed Forces may be in jeopardy for major cuts.

Green Energy and Rail Get an F

Election politics are behind us so it is a good time to post the economic report card for President Obama's first term issued by The Economist on September 1, 2012.

I am pleased to see that for the two areas of "green energy" and "rail passenger transportation" The Economist gives the President an F. These are indeed the two areas that I completely disagree with both the President, Hawaii's Governor, most of Hawaii's current political establishment, and with the environmentalists of Sierra Club.

Indeed, biased taxpayer black holes deserve this.

It is my hope that this F along with today's sad news of the death of US Senator Inouye along with the retirement of US Senator Akaka (this is a 1-2 knockout punch for Hawaii to the very bottom of US Senate seniority combined with Hawaii's rock bottom seniority in the US House) will infuse sanity and restraint into the brains of local decision makers.

Cuts are painful, but cutting wasteful projects* is productive and necessary to avoid a nosedive.

(*) The rail, transit oriented development, wind farms, limitless solar subsidies, inter-island cable, government solar farms, cookie-cutter housing on prime agricultural land, North Shore mega-developments along a single, jammed 2-lane country road, ...