On sequestration and jobs
We cannot allow devastating sequestration cuts to take effect and eliminate jobs. Hawai"i is one of the top 10 states that would take the biggest hit as a percentage of our overall state economy, with more than $400 million annually lost in defense contractor revenue. We have already seen these cuts playing out at Pearl Harbor Shipyard: 133 apprentices will not be hired and 30 temporary workers will lose their jobs. These are hard-working, middle-class families who will lose good wages and health benefits. We have a responsibility to control spending, but we cannot do that at the expense of education and health care for our keiki and kupuna. This includes the proposed cuts to Head Start and Title I grants, which would eliminate 112 jobs and leave 8,115 fewer students and children served. A projected 7.8 percent cut to Hawai"i's senior nutrition programs would decrease the number of home-delivered meals for those in need.
On clean energy
Investments in new technologies and clean energy will be essential to Hawai"i's future economic prosperity and security. Currently, Hawai"i is more dependent on imported fossil fuel than any other state in our nation, spending almost $6 billion or 8.6 percent of our GDP on energy every year. We need to pursue sustainable options at home in order to compete in the 21st Century clean energy economy, to keep utility and fuel costs down for our working-class families and seniors living on fixed incomes, and to preserve our precious environment and culture.
On ending the war in Afghanistan and serving our growing community of veterans
I have long called for an end the war in Afghanistan and to bring our troops home as quickly and safely as possible. It is crucial not only to end this protracted war, but that we refocus on more pressing threats to our national security. Tonight, I hope to hear the President reaffirm his commitment to withdraw from Afghanistan. And, as our veteran community continues to grow, to remain committed to providing them with the tools to succeed and contribute to our communities, in our workplaces, and classrooms.