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Politics

Rick Scott Fights Defense Cuts as Sub Missile Testing Brings 100 Jobs to the Space Coast

August 1, 2012 - 6:00pm

Gov. Rick Scott called on Congress to avoid looming cuts to the defense budget now that a U.S. Navy submarine missile system testing facility at Cape Canaveral Air Force Station was announced. The facility will bring 100 jobs to the Space Coast.

Scott and Lt. Gov. Jennifer Carroll announced the new jobs Thursday for a region that has been hit hard the past couple of years by a slowdown in the space industry.

"All of us are focused on this and making sure anybody in aviation, space, aerospace, defense (knows) that they want to do business," said Scott during the announcement at Patrick Air Force Base.

The Navy Strategic Systems Program will renovate a 1950s-era submarine missile test complex into a land-based facility for testing submarine missile systems in 2015.

The space industry has lost nearly 8,000 workers with the end of the space shuttle program. Its been a year since the last mission.

The announcement comes as United Space Alliance has advised the state Department of Economic Opportunity that 148 Kennedy Space Center workers will be let go Sept. 28.

The layoffs will impact administrative and support, waste management and remediation services employees.

The announcement comes as Scott, who attended a base commanders meeting at Patrick Air Force Base and defense contractor round-table at Brevard Community Colleges Cocoa Campus on Thursday, sent a letter to House Speaker John Boehner, R-Ohio, and Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid, D-Nev., calling for Congress to shield defense from spending cuts slated to kick in on Jan. 2.

In the first year alone, more than 39,000 Floridians could lose their jobs because of the automatic cuts under sequestration according to a Center for Regional Analysis study, Scott wrote.

United States Secretary of Defense Leon Panetta has called the upcoming defense cuts 'unworkable' and 'a disaster' and insisted that they will 'inflict severe damage to our national defense.' This kind of threat to our defense capabilities and economy must be taken seriously.

The following is the complete text of Scotts Letter to House Speaker John Boehner, R-Ohio, and Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid, D-Nevada:

I am pleased to report that Floridas unemployment rate has dropped 2.5 percentage points to 8.6 percent since December 2010. My colleagues in the Legislature and I worked hard to address difficult decisions to get Florida headed in the right direction. We lowered taxes, limited spending through a balanced budget despite record shortfalls, paid down state debt, and reduced government bureaucracy to create an environment for all taxpayers and job creators to succeed. This formula has created jobs for Floridians, and our states unemployment rate is dropping at a faster pace than the unemployment rate of the nation and of every other state but one.

This fall, the United States Congress will be faced with many major fiscal decisions, including consideration of a fiscal year budget, potential tax increases on millions of Americans, and budgetary sequestration that is designed to reduce discretionary spending by $1.2 trillion over ten years. I appreciate the difficulty of these decisions. I respectfully request your careful consideration of the impacts of the estimated $500 billion in anticipated defense cuts.

Florida plays an important role in our nations defense because of its diverse economy, strategic location, and exceptional military and support personnel. Our state is home to 20 major military installations and three unified commands. For fiscal year 2008, defense-related spending accounted for 681,181 direct and indirect Florida jobs, according to the Florida Defense Alliance. Clearly, the defense presence in Florida plays a critical role in protecting our nation and in supporting our economy.

In examining the potential consequences of sequestration, it is devastating to see the impact that such dramatic defense cuts will have on Floridas growing economy. In the first year alone, more than 39,000 Floridians could lose their jobs because of the automatic cuts under sequestration according to a Center for Regional Analysis study. United States Secretary of Defense Leon Panetta has called the upcoming defense cuts "unworkable" and "a disaster" and insisted that they will "inflict severe damage to our national defense." This kind of threat to our defense capabilities and economy must be taken seriously.

As Governor of Florida, my job is to create a safe environment for Floridians to thrive personally and professionally. In addition to the anticipated job loss, the level of cuts to the nations defense capabilities required under sequestration may jeopardize the safety of Floridians. Additionally, Florida was ranked fourth among the nations top exporting states in 2011, and Floridas ports provide an entry and exit point for United States businesses and their trading partners around the world. For this reason, it is vital to our states economy, as well as the nations, to keep these commerce centers secure.

While I agree with many Americans that the federal government must reduce spending, reduce taxes and create an environment conducive to private sector job growth, I urge you to prioritize the safety and security of our nation and the strength of our economy as you focus on resolving the issues related to the budget and sequestration. I encourage you to replace the impending and disastrous defense cuts with reductions in other non-essential government programs. For example, repealing the job-killing ObamaCare legislation will save close to $1 trillion by itself. This action would be a far more responsible and sensible step toward balancing the federal budget.

Reach Jim Turner at jturner@sunshinestatenews.com or at (772) 215-9889.

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