Gov. Rick Scott: Sequester will delay Navy ships

Florida governor says budget cut would halt transfer of 3 ships to Mayport

JACKSONVILLE, Fla. - Gov. Rick Scott says among the effects on Florida from the automatic federal budget cuts likely to take effect on Friday would be delaying the transfer of three amphibious Navy ships to Mayport.

If Congress fails to come up with an alternative plan by Friday's deadline, the federal government will be forced to slash its budget by $1.2 trillion over the next decade, with $85 billion being cut in the remaining seven months of the current fiscal year.

Scott on Wednesday released a letter he wrote President Barack Obama in which he said the budget cuts would especially hurt Florida -- one of the country's most defense-centric states.

"The impacts on Florida's military installations and defense industries will be severe under sequestration," wrote Scott. "Our immediate concerns include dramatic reductions to our National Guard, which threatens our ability to respond to wildfires this spring and hurricanes this summer."

DOCUMENT:  Gov. Scott's letter to President Obama

The governor's office says northeast Florida is 17 percent economically dependent upon the military and defense industry. The delay of the USS Gettysburg's deployment, the one-day-a-week furlough of civilian employees and cancellation of aircraft and ship maintenance have all received exposure, and military leaders have expressed concern about military readiness.

Scott's information that the relocation of the USS New York, USS Iwo Jima and USS Fort McHenry to Mayport Naval Station would be delayed by the so-called sequester was not previously released.

The three ships -- that where scheduled to relocate late this year and early next year -- would bring about 2,000 sailors to Mayport and add about $75 million to the economy each year in maintenance and repairs.

"It will hurt the community," Mayport barber Saif Shakoor said. "Slow business and we will see a big decline."

Scott, a Republican, clearly puts the blame of any economic hardship that results from these budget cuts on the Democratic president.

"If your administration fails to do its job to responsibly managed the budget, thousands of Floridians will lose their jobs," Scott wrote.

The letter did not mention the lack of action from Congress regarding what is called sequestration.

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