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Wednesday, December 12, 2012
Effects on a State After Loss of Senior Senator
By Selected News Articles @ 2:30 AM :: 7452 Views :: Congressional Delegation, Economy


UPDATE 12-17-2012: Senator Daniel Inouye Dies at 88

"The Effects On a State When They Lose Their Senior Senator"

Excerpts from "The Effects On a State When They Lose Their Senior Senator" (2010). Morris, Adam J.,  Claremont McKenna College

Almost no research has been done regarding the relationship between Hawaii State growth, federal spending, and Senate Representation. A 2001 report from the Department of Business, Economic, Development, and Tourism, illustrates Hawaii’s dependence on Federal Government expenditures. From 1990-2000, Federal Expenditures to Hawaii increased by more than 60 percent. In those same years, these expenditures accounted for up to 12 percent of Gross State Product (2001, p. 2). How these federal expenditures were affected by congressional representation and pork-barreling projects remain untested?… 

…Ted Stevens, the longest serving Republican Senator in US History from Alaska, lost his seventh re-election bid in 2008. The loss left Alaska with Republican Lisa Murkowski to replace Stevens as their Senior Senator. In the 2009 Alaska primary elections, Murkowski illustrated the importance of Seniority to voters. Unfortunately for Murkowski, the state that had received billions in federal dollars largely in part to Stevens, did not agree, and voted fellow Republican Joe Miller to take her place. Steve Haycox, a University of Alaska Anchorage history professor, said in article, “On the face of it, it puts Alaska in a desperate economic situation because it will have two junior senators…That's a big, big problem when one-third of our economic base is federal spending." This is the exact situation that people in Hawaii are anxiously awaiting when Senator Daniel Inouye eventually loses his seat in the Senate. Nearly fifty years of experience in the Senate simply cannot be replaced. How much will states like Hawaii and Alaska suffer with the loss of their Senior Senator? Will it really be a “big, big problem” as Haycox puts it?

It has been concluded in the study that, in terms of federal spending per dollar of tax, states will be negatively affected by the loss of a Senior Senator. Controlling for the variables we analyzed, Hawaii will approximately lose ($0.0015 x [48-20]) $0.04 in Expenditure per dollar Tax if Daniel Inouye (48 years) is replaced by the current Junior Hawaii Senator Daniel Akaka (20 years). However, they should also gain ($0.0014 x [20-0]) nearly $0.03 with the decreased tenure of the Junior Senator. Alaska’s change will be even less than Hawaii as Murkowski only had eight years of tenure under her belt. (Editor's Note: Of course, Akaka is retiring so the situation is much more dire.)

The loss of Senate Seniority will not completely sink Hawaii and Alaska’s economy, but it will definitely have a big impact. Federal spending is obviously a huge reason why states like Hawaii and Alaska are able to thrive. In Alaska from 1982 to 2005, Expenditure per dollar Tax increased 216% from $0.85 to $1.84 and expenditures per capita jumped %280 from $4977 to $13950. This is in large part due to Stevens and his chairmanship to the Appropriations Committee in 1998. Steven’s seniority was extremely important for Alaska in terms of his chairmanship. A similar situation occurred in 1997 when Oregon lost 30 years of Senate experience and two periods of Appropriation chairmanship with the retirement of Mark Hatfield.  States that lose senior representatives like Hatfield and Stevens are losing years of institutional knowledge. Senior Senators understand the system; they know who to call, they know how to get things done quickly, and they know exactly what they need. It is like any industry. When a company loses a worker with decades of experience, they are losing all the invaluable knowledge that worker has accumulated over his/her career. This knowledge is very hard to replace and often times companies or states struggle to move on.

A large part of pork allocation in the Senate deals with forming coalitions. Fortunately for states like Alaska, the relationships Senators create often last after a Senator has lost his/her position. For example, Stevens and current Appropriations chairman Daniel Inouye had a great relationship in the Senate. Inouye often visited Alaska, and understood the challenges they faced. It is unlikely that Inouye will leave Alaska in the cold, even when Stevens is gone.  Making positive relationships is another key immeasurable quality that Senior Senators possess.

Another reason why state economies will not completely destruct when losing a Senior Senator is the fact that there is a federal commitment to each and every state. Alaska receives large amounts of federal spending in environment projects, an area that will be boosted under a Democratic administration. A state like Hawaii is extremely important as strategic military center for the US. Daniel Inouye without a doubt plays a key role in the allocating federal spending for the military complex in Hawaii, but losing him does not mean the state will lose money for defense. Hawaii will remain a military center and will continue to receive money for military purposes, no matter who is the Senior Senator.

Many of the plans that Daniel Inouye has enacted and is currently working on will continue to benefit the state for many years. This type of “long-term thinking” is crucial for Hawaii’s future. Future Hawaii Senators will be able to continue Inouye’s Legacy by carrying out his plans. In essence, Inouye will be a contributing factor to Hawaii’s economy long after he leaves.

While state Senators can play a large role, there are many other factors that go into a state’s economy. It is almost impossible to forecast the future of that state in terms of Senate Seniority. Senior Senators, and their committee chairmanship, have a lot to do with the welfare of their state, and it is hard to replace a Senator with decades of experience. Fortunately, the effects Senators have on states do not disappear when they retire or lose their seat. States continue to operate on plans enacted by previous Senators, and are able to thrive with government support....

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