US Department of Defense: Jacksonville facing $135 million in cuts

DoD wrote letter to Fla. Gov. Rick Scott on Friday

TALLAHASSEE, Fla. - The US Department of Defense wrote a letter to Florida Gov. Rick Scott on Friday in response to Congress's inability to reach a deal on balanced deficit reduction to avoid sequestration.

Required by law, the letter said President Barack Obama had to issue a sequestration order Friday, canceling approximately $85 billion in budgetary resources across the Federal Government.

Of this amount, nearly $41 billion would come from the Department of Defense.

According to the US Department of Defense, Jacksonville could be facing $135 million in cuts to funding.

Scott spoke at the Jacksonville Landing Friday night after receiving the letter.

"We just got a letter from the president. It's infuriating there is going to be $135 million worth of cuts to Jacksonville," said Scott. "Now Congress and the president they have not done their job. They should not continue to be paid until sequestration ends."

Deputy Secretary of Defense Ashton Carter writes another sequestration order could be issued later this month, which could result in a combined reduction for DoD of as much as $46 billion.

This amount is roughly a 9 percent reduction in the department's entire budget, except for military personnel funding, which current law permitted the President to exempt.

"What's ridiculous is this could have been avoided," said Scott. "They should have sat down and done their jobs. They shouldn't have played politics, because they are playing politics with families lives in Florida. They haven't done their job and we are going to loose jobs because of their inaction."

Carter writes the DoD does not yet have a complete inventory of the required cutbacks, but he provided some examples:

  • The Navy faces the loss of $135 million in funding for aircraft depot maintenance in Jacksonville and $3.2 million for four demolition projects in Pensacola.
  • The Army would lose $7 million in base operations funding across Florida, including cuts at Camp Blanding.
  • The Air Force would suffer a cut of at least $37 million to their operations in the State, including reductions in facilities projects at Cape Canaveral and at Eglin, MacDill, Patrick, and Tyndall Air Force bases.

The DoD said it is still assessing detailed changes and will be able to provide additional information on cutbacks in Florida as we compile a more complete list.

"The federal government needs to do what Florida has done," said Scott. "We balanced the budget, but we did it responsibly. We didn't take a meat cleaver to the budget."

In addition, Carter says to accommodate all the cutbacks that would be imposed in the absence of further Congressional action, the DoD will be forced to place most of their DoD civilian employees on unpaid furlough status for up to 22 discontinuous workdays.

"Almost certainly, this unfortunate action has already had serious adverse effects on the morale and productivity of the approximately 31,000 DoD civilian employees who work in Florida," wrote Carter.

If the DoD has to impose these furloughs, they said it will mean roughly a 20 percent pay cut over a nearly six month period for those workers.

"We estimate that a 22-workday furlough could result in a payroll reduction of about $185 million just in Florida," wrote Carter.

Lastly, Carter writes that sequestration will also affect Defense contractors and, therefore, the industrial base in Florida.

"I walked in with a $3.7 billion budget deficit I had to figure out how to make sure to continue to provide the services our families wanted and do it in a responsible manner," said Scott. "We did it, we paid down debt and we've turned our economy around."

DoD says it is doing everything within its power to minimize adverse effects on its national security mission.

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