'Inouye Cliff' Way Bigger Than 'Fiscal Cliff' For Hawaii

Sara Lin/Civil Beat

Hawaii may have dodged the fiscal cliff, but there's a bigger looming threat that state budget officials say they don't know how to begin to prepare for: the economic vacuum created by the loss of Sen. Daniel K. Inouye.

"The Inouye Cliff is actually going to be a greater impact I believe than even the federal cliff," said Kalbert Young, the state's chief budget officer.

Hawaii receives $2 billion — nearly one-fifth of its annual budget — in federal funding each year for state programs. That covers everything from watershed protection and highways, to rail and University of Hawaii telescopes.

But how much of that came to Hawaii because of Inouye is impossible to tell, Young said.

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