South Carolina could suffer a major loss of military personnel, defense contracts and revenue because of automatic cuts scheduled to begin in 2013.
Congressman Joe Wilson and Greater Columbia Chamber of Commerce gathered state and Midlands officials to address the threat to South Carolina’s economy of mandatory, across-the-board cuts coming from Congress. The panel, with leaders from both parties, agree that Congress must make spending cuts and achieve a balanced budget –but that cuts must not be arbitrary.
When the budget supercommittee failed to come up with a plan to cut back federal spending, that triggered $600 billion cuts to Defense Department spending, known as sequestration. The first round of cutbacks are scheduled for 2013, with the Pentagon to lose $60 billion across all programs and projects.
Wilson’s office says that would take $1.08 billion from South Carolina’s economy, with defense spending is 5.7 percent of the state’s GDP.
State Department of Employment and Workforce Director Abe Turner says that would mean a loss of 7,443 military personnel in 2013. The business community is worried about losing $482 in defense contracts in 2013.
Congressman Wilson serves on the House Armed Forces Committee.
AUDIO: Wilson says there are some efforts underway in Congress (2:25)
The cuts from sequestration would be on top of current plans to trim the military budget— and a new round of base reductions referred to as BRAC— which are also looming.
Under the default cuts, South Carolina could lose more than $482 million in defense contracts in year 2013 alone.
State Adjutant General Robert Livingston says the federal deficit is a security threat itself, but does not agree with how the budget cuts are designed.
AUDIO: Livingston on effects to SC (2:05)
Columbia Mayor Steve Benjamin represents the nation’s largest U.S. Army training depot, Fort Jackson.
AUDIO: Mayor Benjamin says Washington must make cuts, but strategic ones (1:50)