U.S. Rep. Jack Kingston, R-Ga., touched on budget issues and government programs Tuesday during the Liberty County Chamber of Commerce’s Eggs & Issues Breakfast at the Board of Education Transportation Complex.
Local business and elected leaders, including Hinesville Mayor James Thomas, state Sen. Buddy Carter, R-Pooler, city council members and county commissioners attended the breakfast, which was sponsored by the Navy Federal Credit Union.
Thomas introduced Kingston by informing the audience that military communities couldn’t have a better friend than Kingston, whom he said represents five military installations and is a senior member of the Defense Appropriations Committee.
“We have folks (in the U.S. House of Representatives) who want to grow every program, and we have folks who want to eliminate every program,” Kingston began, explaining the issues hindering a compromised budget. “We need to pass a budget. The (U.S.) Senate has not passed a budget in three years. The (U.S.) House has passed a budget. Everybody got a chance to sink their teeth into something.”
Kingston said he is concerned about the budget because it affects other areas of the economy, including international competitiveness. He pointed out that 80 percent of the ingredients in our medicines are imported, as are our clothes and other consumer goods.
Kingston concluded his remarks by focusing on how proposed budget cuts could hurt military communities, noting that the proposed Pentagon budget reduces military spending by $487 billion during a 10-year period.
“You know, someone once said you can close any (VA) clinic so long as it’s not in anyone’s congressional district,” he joked, but added that he doesn’t expect to see cuts affecting Fort Stewart. “Somebody’s loss is bound to be our gain. But let me say that military affairs committees are very, very important. (Friends of Liberty and Fort Stewart), you bring active duty and retirees together.”
Kingston said he’d heard rumors there might be up to 400 civilian layoffs (at Fort Stewart), but that unconfirmed information was augmented by verification of 12 Gray Eagle unmanned aerial vehicles that are slated to come to Fort Stewart, which would provide up to 180 jobs.