Gov. Rick Scott had one word Friday night about the massive federal budget cuts facing military in Florida due to Washington’s inability to reach a deal on balanced deficit reduction this week.
“Infuriating,” he told reporters at an impromptu press conference at The Jacksonville Landing.
“They are playing politics with family’s lives in Florida and we are going to lose jobs because of their inaction,” he added.”
Scott was discussing a letter he had received from Deputy Secretary of Defense Ashton Carter that related just some of the impact $41 billion of nationwide military cuts would have on Florida. Carter’s letter said $135 million in funding for aircraft depot maintenance in Jacksonville would have to be cut. So will $7 million in Army base operations funding, including cuts at Camp Blanding.
The governor had a budget suggestion for Washington and said voters should pass on the same message as well.
“They should let the president know that the expectation is that he do his job,” Scott said. “He needs to sit down with Congress; he needs to stop sequestration; he needs to make sure we get these jobs back in Florida and act responsibly like we do. Balance the budget in a responsible manner.”
Carter’s letter said President Barack Obama will have to issue an order canceling approximately $85 billion in budgetary resources, almost $41 billion of that from the Department of Defense.
The letter also states that most civilian defense employees will have to take up to 22 days of unpaid furlough. It also states that sequestration will affect defense contractors “and, therefore, the industrial base” in the state.
Scott had already said this week that the effects would be devastating for Florida’s economic recovery and could hurt the Florida National Guard’s response to hurricanes and other natural disasters. Now he said he will talk to “everybody we can” in Washington to lessen the impact of the budget cuts.
The letter states that the Department of Defense does not have a complete list of all the required cutbacks. But along with the Navy’s $135 million funding cut at the aircraft depot maintenance at Jacksonville NAS, another $3.2 million will be lost for four demolition projects in Pensacola. The Army cuts include Camp Blanding, while the Air Force would suffer at least a $37 million cut to operations including reductions in facilities projects at Cape Canaveral and at Eglin, MacDill, Patrick and Tyndall Air Force Bases.
“We are still assessing detailed changes and will be able to provide additional information on cutbacks in Florida as we compile a more complete list,” the letter states.