News that a deal was reached Friday to temporarily end the federal government shutdown was met with local reactions ranging from high hopes to doubts to thanks and calls for a permanent solution.
Christina Gaines, a Transportation Security Administration employee and American Federation of Government Employees steward on Kauai, said the tone among her coworkers is one of cautious optimism.
“We’re all saying ‘Yay — but,’” she said. “We don’t trust much of nothing right now.”
Lisa Marie Akau, a national organizer for the AFGE, called the announcement “a sign of hope.”
Akau said she is grateful the shutdown has been resolved, but she knows this isn’t the end of the road for unpaid government employees.
“They’re still going to struggle,” she said. “I know they’re going to get paid eventually. I just hope it’s not two weeks from now.”
Senate President Ron Kouchi said he was happy people are returning to work.
If the government employees do not get their paychecks soon, it could potentially have a “major impact on our economy,” he said.
“I’m hopeful that we don’t just go through this again,” he said.
State Rep. Nadine Nakamura thanked the federal workers who worked without pay for over a month.
“I hope that the president and Congress can work on an effective border security and immigration reform bill in the next three weeks,” she wrote in a text message to TGI. “It’s frustrating because the disruption to so many people’s lives was clearly avoidable.”
U.S. Sen. Brian Schatz (D-Hawaii) said he wanted to express “sympathy and my solidarity with all of the workers in Hawaii who had to go through this experience.
“Shutdowns don’t work, and I’m hopeful that everyone has learned this lesson for the last time,” he said.
Sen. Mazie K. Hirono said the announcement was welcome, but work remains to be done.
“While the debate continues on border security, we need to pass a bill to fully fund all government operations through the end of the fiscal year,” she said. “Come February 15, there cannot be another government shutdown.”
She said it was up to Congress “to step up to its responsibility as a separate branch of government, do its job, and keep the government open.””
Meanwhile, the County of Kauai announced various extensions, fee waivers for shutdown-impacted federal workers.
“We are cognizant and sympathetic to the many hard working men and women who are dedicated to our country, who report to duty even in the face of a government shutdown,” said Mayor Derek S. K. Kawakami. “We cannot imagine the anxiety that you must be facing, trying to figure out how to make ends meet.”
He said solutions to reopening the government at this time still appear temporary, and the county will be monitoring the situation in Washington as the days unfold.
“We hope our federal leaders can come to a more permanent solution to keep our government predictably open,” Kawakami said.
Impacted federal workers who may be unable to make their real property tax payment by Feb. 20 will have until May 20 to pay their second installment of real property taxes without a fee.
Additionally, impacted federal workers who are not able to make timely payments on Department of Water bills will not be subject to the 0.5 percent late payment fee for the duration of the shutdown. Motor vehicle registration payments are also extended 90 days from their original deadlines for shutdown-impacted federal workers.
“We want to thank Council Chair Arryl Kaneshiro and the County Council for helping to work with us on this matter,” the mayor added.
The Hawaii Government Employees Association said Friday that food distribution for impacted workers is still on despite the agreement to open the federal government for three weeks because federal workers probably won’t get paid until next week at the earliest.