Bracing for Cutbacks
While other states with a high military presence brace for the effects of sequestration, Virginia leaders are preparing for a double whammy with the possibility of another Base Realignment and Closure of key facilities.
But unlike the last round of closures where the Commonwealth had little input, a gubernatorial commission is devising a strategy to make potential cuts less harmful.
Economist Chris Chmura says sequestration and the decline in defense contracts alone will stall economic growth, especially in Northern Virginia and Hampton Roads. She estimates that more than 100,000 jobs could be lost due to sequestration.
Secretary of Veterans Affairs and Homeland Security Terrie Suit says when more potential BRAC cuts are added, a military state like Virginia—which has prospered more than most—will fall behind. She says during the last round of closures, the Defense Department failed to get input from state leaders. Now they’re working to change that.
"So consequently, we can't wait until a BRAC is actually approved. We have to do our work now, and our goal is to make sure Virginia is a place where the military finds the highest level of value, meaning they can train for war, they can train for their missions, it's a great place for them to be located, they can do what they have to do here," said Suit.
Suit says there are ways the military can save money outside of BRAC, which is why this panel is striving to partner with them and find measures that will mitigate cuts to strategic locations and jobs.