MAC Aims to Protect State from Collapse of Defense Industry

Hawaii long enjoyed the benefits of political seniority in Washington, DC; however, with the passing of U.S Senator Daniel Inouye and retiring of U.S. Senator Daniel Akaka, we have dropped to the bottom of the seniority ladder. And despite the announced shift in U.S. security focus to the Pacific, the huge challenges posed by the 2011 Budget Control Act place in serious jeopardy Hawaii’s strategic location in the mid-Pacific and clearly make vulnerable our multi-billion dollar defense industry.

Aggressive steps are needed to protect, preserve, and promote Hawaii’s strategic military value.  Other established U.S. defense communities on the West Coast and Northeast have taken protective measures and are in direct competition. Hawaii must remain the command and control center for Pacific military operations.

A community-wide effort is planned to protect Hawaii’s $14.8 billion defense industry and the more than 100,000 jobs that are enabled by defense spending and report annual household incomes totaling $8.6 billion.  We simply can’t afford to lose.

The MAC has contracted Jennifer Sabas, former chief of staff for Senator Inouye, to reorganize the MAC into a statewide membership organization that includes prime defense contractors, small businesses, labor organizations, community associations, and others that support the military’s prominent presence in Hawaii.  We already gained more than 30 businesses and labor organizations and 20 individual supporters.  Those interested in protecting Hawaii’s economy and work force are encouraged to email Jennifer or Rona Suzuki.

MAC Reorganized To Address Potential Impacts Of Federal Budget Cuts

The state Senate Committee on Public Safety, Intergovernmental and Military Affairs, and House Committee on Veterans, Military and International Affairs, and Culture and the Arts met in a joint hearing to learn about the steps being taken by the Military Affairs Council (MAC) to better protect, preserve, and promote Hawaii’s multi-billion dollar defense industry, the second major source of revenues to the state economy.

Attending the hearing and networking with committee members were 16 MAC members; Jennifer Sabas, serving as a consultant in reorganizing the MAC; and senior flag and general officers representing all of the military branches in Hawaii. Major General Darryll Wong (state adjutant general), Ms. Sabas, and Charlie Ota discussed the significant impacts of budget cuts mandated by the Budget Control Act (BCA) of 2011 on the military’s active, reserve and National Guard forces. The BCA is expected to require defense budget cuts of upwards of a trillion dollars by 2021.

Discussion was also centered on how defense communities throughout the U.S. are taking extraordinary measures to protect against losses aimed at their respective communities. This includes approving the use of state and county funds to improve the military value of existing bases to avoid decisions to relocate or eliminate military units. The joint hearing was well attended by senior military commanders and MAC members.

MAC Testifies at Joint Grant in Aid (GIA) Hearing

The legislature held a joint hearing of the Senate Ways and Means Committee and House Finance Committee to review more than 200 grant in aid (GIA) applications submitted by community groups and nonprofit organizations. This included a GIA submitted by the Chamber to secure state funding to supplement private sector funding in reorganizing the MAC.

The state’s defense industry is facing new challenges posed by the nation’s poor fiscal condition and the loss of significant political seniority for Hawaii in the Congress with the passing of U.S. Senator Inouye and the retirement of U.S. Senator Akaka. The Chamber’s Vice President of Military Affairs, Charlie Ota, represented the MAC and presented verbal comments in support of the GIA request.

MAC Membership Expands, Adds Labor Groups

The MAC membership now includes nearly 40 dues paying members and continues to grow with many in the process of sending in their membership applications. Pelatron and the Laborers’ International Union of North America, Local 368, are new corporate members, and both Hawaiian Construction Alliance and the Hawaii Regional Council of Carpenters joined at the corporate leadership level.  New individual members in support of the military in Hawaii include Patrick Brent, Mark Takai, Stephen Sasaki and Nathan Lorenzo.

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