Military cuts to impact state

  By:  Patrick Danner The San Antonio Express News Updated 12:52 am, Friday, December 28, 2012 View Article   A just-released study by a group that seeks to preserve a robust military industrial base calculates that looming budget cuts to the Department of Defense will cost Texas 111,640 jobs and $6.1 billion in economic output through 2017.   The cuts also will lead to $1.8 billion in lower personal earnings for defense-related jobs in Texas, the Southwest Defense Alliance projects.   “It’s clear to me that these defense cuts will pummel Texas’ economy,” said retired Army Major Gen. Dennis Kenneally, the alliance’s executive director.   However, the expected impact of sequestration won’t be as bad in Texas as DoD drawdowns that have occurred in the state since 2009.
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  The alliance estimates Texas has lost 135,428 jobs and $7.1 billion in economic output since 2009 from military drawdowns. Total earnings related to those jobs fell an estimated $2.2 billion over the last three years.   Combined, drawdowns and sequestration would account for the loss of 247,000 DoD and civilian-defense jobs and $13.1 billion in economic output in the state from 2009 to 2017, the alliance reported.   “Texas cannot afford to lose one more job, let alone 247,000,” Kenneally said. “These are well-paying jobs that have an economic multiplier effect that cascades throughout the Texas economy and has potentially a catastrophic effect on the defense infrastructure in the state, which is fundamental to the… defense of this nation.”   The nonprofit’s study highlighted only statewide estimates.   San Antonio is home to Joint Base San Antonio, the largest joint base in the DoD. It includes Lackland AFB, Randolph AFB and Fort Sam Houston. The city also has the military’s only level-1 trauma center, San Antonio Military Medical Center.   Elsewhere in Texas, major military facilities include Fort Hood, Fort Bliss in El Paso and Laughlin AFB in Del Rio.   Despite the alliance’s projections, Robert Murdock, head of the city’s Office of Military Affairs, said San Antonio is well-positioned to deal with sequestration because of the critical missions in the area.   “We were such a significant growth community as a result of the ’05 BRAC (Base Realignment and Closure Commission),” Murdock said. “We have experienced significant growth — my gosh, $3 billion plus in construction as a result.”   “I don’t think we are near as vulnerable as, say, some other communities,” he added.   Murdock said he expects there will be cuts in contractor support. But what impact that will have on San Antonio has yet to be determined.   The Southwest Defense Alliance is a nonprofit group represented by retired military officers, executives of defense-contracting firms and former government officials. Former California Gov. Pete Wilson is its honorary chair.   Without a deficit-reduction deal between Congress and President Barack Obama, automatic spending cuts are slated to take effect starting Tuesday. Sequestration calls for $1.2 trillion in spending cuts through 2021. About $492 billion is expected to come from cuts in military spending. That doesn’t include $487 billion already set to be cut from the defense budget over the next decade.   The Southwest Defense Alliance used a model to project the impact of the cuts on a proportional basis in six states. Besides Texas, it looked at Arizona, California, Nevada, New Mexico and Utah.   Keith R. Phillips, senior economic policy adviser for the Federal Reserve Bank of Dallas‘ San Antonio branch, said he believes that San Antonio can withstand military jobs cuts given the growth in the civilian labor force. The San Antonio area has added more than 300,000 nonfarm jobs in the first 11 months of the year.   “It’s pretty clear that Texas would be able to sustain pretty strong job growth even in light of these (projected) cuts,” Phillips said. “It doesn’t mean that people aren’t going to be hurt. The military has played an important role in the Texas economy and in San Antonio. But based on these numbers it’s kind of surprising that we have not felt the effects more.”